See Eric box.
See Eric do pushups and jump rope and do situps.
See Eric sweat and blow up stuff and fire big guns and remind Missourians over and over and over again that he’s a one-time Navy SEAL.
We’re talking about Eric Greitens, GOP candidate for Missouri governor, and what he does in his TV ads he’s airing. Taken together, the ads may rank as the most unorthodox set of spots ever seen for a front-line Show-Me gubernatorial candidate.
But here’s a question, and it may be the most important question in Missouri politics right now because Greitens’ enormous upside political potential is privately acknowledged by members of both parties:
Is this going to work?
Are images of a fit former member of the military strutting his macho self in TV ad after TV ad going to translate to votes come Aug. 2?
It’s hard to tell in a four-candidate race that appears highly competitive with less than three weeks to go before primary election day.
It’s a race that features a pretty decent set of Republican contenders who will have voters struggling to choose between them. Also in the race are Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, former House speaker Catherine Hanaway and businessman John Brunner.
Greitens is not the most qualified of the batch. But he probably ranks as the most intriguing given his fresh-face status.
He’s never held public office before. In fact, he’s never run for office. As a former SEAL, he started a St. Louis-based organization called The Mission Continues, which provides paid public service fellowships for wounded veterans.
Greitens, 42, is one of those boy wonder types who comes along occasionally in politics and appears to believe he can conquer the world. Whether he’s ready for the governorship in a highly complex, intensely partisan and demanding state such as Missouri remains an open question.
On the one hand, Greitens’ ads surely have been effective when it comes to getting attention. A lot of Missourians recognize Greitens’ name by now, and that’s a critical step given that few Missourians did three months ago.
But then there’s the flip side: Do all the pushups and uppercuts suggest a future governor?
In other words, can the ads do two jobs at once: garner Greitens the name ID he so desperately needs while projecting an aura of gubernatorial gravitas?
At Wednesday night’s debate at Lindenwood University, The Star’s Dave Helling asked whether Greitens’ use of an M4 carbine was appropriate given all the deadly chaos on America’s streets these days.
Greitens was unapologetic.
“They can recognize the difference between a Navy SEAL using an M4 and a terrorist using a weapon to kill people,” he said.
He said the ad’s theme shines through, which is taking “dead aim at politics as usual.” Thousands of Missourians have seen the ads, Greitens said. As a result, many Republicans want to back an outsider to take on the establishment.
The other candidates dismissed the ads. Brunner said it’s “all too easy to blow things up.” Kinder said the ads amount to “cheap stunts and gimmickry.”
With the national political conventions looming followed by the Olympics, Missourians will spend precious little time on a primary race for governor. So for Greitens, these ads could be the keys to the governor’s mansion.
If they work.