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Greitens defends heavily criticized ‘RINO-hunting’ ad

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Former Missouri governor and U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens defended a campaign ad that sparked harsh backlash in a radio appearance Tuesday morning.

In a radio interview with KCMO Talk Radio, Greitens defended his video and dismissed claims that the imagery would lead to violence.

"Every normal person around the state of Missouri saw that. It's clearly a metaphor," Greitens said.

Greitens also said, "I think that every normal person who is listening to your show right now, and who watched this is if anything amused by the faux outrage of RINOS around the state, and around the country, there's literally not a single person in the state of Missouri, who looked at that ad, and believes that they're literally issuing RINO hunting permits."

Greitens shook up the race for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Roy Blunt when his campaign released the ad on social media Monday.

The ad in question was removed by Facebook. The company said the ad was "violating our policies prohibiting violence and incitement." Twitter also said the ad violated its rules about abusive behavior but decided to keep the ad up.

In the video, Greiten calls for his supporters to hunt RINOs -- Republicans in Name Only -- and depicts him and a tactical unit outside of a home. He states that he is a Navy SEAL, and they are going RINO hunting. He then said the "RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice."

Greitens and the tactical crew storms the house, and then he says "Join the MAGA crew, get a RINO hunting permit. There's no bagging limit, no tagging limit and it doesn't expire until we save our county."

A Navy Reserve Spokesperson said that Greitens resigned his commission last May.

The ad has garnered backlash from both sides of the political aisle.

Greitens is one of the leading contenders for the Republican Senate nomination in Missouri. He was the governor of Missouri from January 2017 until he resigned in June 2018 after allegations of sexual assault and campaign finances being misappropriated.

Greitens criticized "Big Tech" after the ad was removed from Facebook and flagged on Twitter. Many conservatives contend that social media companies have unfairly targeted right-leaning political speech.

William Frievogel is a journalism professor at Illinois University at Carbondale, and he said that Greitens has as much of a right to create the ad, as Facebook does to remove it.

"I mean he has the right, First Amendment right, to make this ad and post it, and the social media companies have the First Amendment right to edit their sites by deciding it's objectionable and could be seen as advocacy of violence and in violating their rules and to take it down. so the First Amendment protects him, and it protects Facebook," said Frievogel.

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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.

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