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In Ad, Shotgun-Toting Greitens Asks Voters to Go ‘RINO Hunting’

Eric Greitens, a Republican nominee for the United States Senate in Missouri, released a violent new political ad Monday showing he had a shotgun at the ready and accompanied a team of men armed with assault rifles as they — in SWAT team style – stormed into a house looking for “RINOs” or Republicans in name only.

“Join the MAGA crew,” Mr Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, declares in the ad. “Get a RINO hunting license. There’s no baggage limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”

Mr. Greitens’ ad was just the latest, but arguably the most threatening in a long line of Republican campaign ads that used firearms and equated hard-core conservatism with the use of deadly weapons.

At a committee hearing on Thursday, J. Michael Luttig, a former federal judge widely respected by conservatives, suggested that Mr. Trump and his allies posed a “clear and current threat to American democracy.”

The use of violent rhetoric has steadily increased in Republican circles in recent months as threats and aggressive imagery have become increasingly common in community meeting rooms, convention offices and on the campaign trail.

While much of the violent speeches and imagery by Republicans were aimed at Democrats, some of it, as in Mr. Greitens’ ad, was aimed at party members deemed insufficiently conservative.

On Sunday, Representative Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican and member of the Jan. 6 committee, said, published a letter addressed to his wife from someone who had threatened to execute the couple.

Greitens’ campaign was not immediately available for comment on the ad.

Mr Greitens has sought Mr Trump’s approval, so far without success. His campaign chairman is Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancée of Donald Trump Jr. The Greitens campaign also has a company employing Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for the former president, as a communications adviser, data shows.

Mr Budowich declined to comment on the advertisement.

Experts have warned that violent rhetoric can often lead to actual physical violence.

“When individuals feel more confident and legitimate about expressing violent feelings, it can encourage others to feel more confident about making actual violence easier,” said Robert Pape, who studies political violence at the University of Chicago. “Unfortunately, this is a self-reinforcing spiral.”

Some Republicans criticized Mr. Greitens for posting the ad.

“Every Republican should expose this sick and dangerous ad by Eric Greitens,” Barbara Comstock, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, said Monday. “This is just a taste of the ‘clear and current danger’ that Judge Luttig talked about last week.”

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