Missouri Republican Senate candidate Eric Greitens faced a grilling from conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in an interview Wednesday that devolved into a testy exchange after questions about allegations of sexual misconduct and blackmail.
In the nearly half-hour interview, Hewitt pressed Greitens, a former GOP governor, on how he plans to deal with allegations that he had photographed a woman nude without her consent in an effort to blackmail her into keeping quiet about an extramarital affair.
Those allegations were among the multiple scandals that prompted Greitens to resign as governor in 2018, little more than a year into his first term.
The woman in that case has alleged in sworn testimony before a Republican-led investigative committee that Greitens forced her to perform a sexual act after taking the photo.
“How are you going to survive that? How are you not going to be Todd Akin?” Hewitt said, comparing Greitens to the 2012 Republican Senate candidate in Missouri who lost a bid to unseat former Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation – CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Blunt’s retirement deals blow to McConnell inner circle Blunt retirement shakes up Missouri Senate race MORE (D-Mo.) after he claimed that women who are the victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant as a result.
“You’re talking to a Republican,” Hewitt said. “I just want to win the Senate, Eric. And I’m afraid you’ll be Todd Akin 2.0.”
Greitens repeatedly denied any wrongdoing throughout the interview, claiming that the allegations against him were false and had been perpetuated by the “mainstream media” and the “establishment.”
He also compared himself to former President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden leans heavily into gun control Justice Dept. faces risks, rewards with riot sedition charges Online harassment is ugly and routine for women in journalism MORE at several points in the conversation, blaming the media for spreading false information about himself and Trump.
“You’ve seen and you’ve watched the way the mainstream media and the left have attacked President Trump for years because he was a conservative, he was an outsider,” Greitens said. “They do the exact same thing to me.”
Greitens launched a bid on Monday to replace retiring Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden’s next act: Massive infrastructure plan with tax hikes Democrats look to Georgia model ahead of 2022 Senate races Mo Brooks launches Senate bid in Alabama MORE (R-Mo.) in the 2022 midterm elections. He has sought to cast himself as a staunch Trump loyalist, hoping to ride the wave of support that gave the former president a 15-point margin of victory in Missouri in last year’s presidential election.
Trump hasn’t weighed in on the Missouri Senate race yet, though some in his orbit have sought to boost Greitens’s Senate ambitions. The former governor has so far touted endorsements from Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTrump allies line up ahead of potentially bruising primaries Sidney Powell seeks dismissal of Dominion’s .3B suit Jason Miller, Andrew Giuliani join Newsmax as contributors MORE, the former New York City mayor and Trump’s personal attorney, as well as Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Interior finalizes plan to open 80 percent of Alaska petroleum reserve to drilling | Justice Department lawyers acknowledge presidential transition in court filing | Trump admin pushes for permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Trump administration pushes for grazing permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Interior secretary tests positive for COVID-19 after two days of meetings with officials: report MORE, who served for nearly two years as Trump’s Interior secretary.
But Greitens’s campaign has worried some Republicans, who fear that the former governor’s political baggage could cost them a Senate race that they see as an easy win.
Republicans need to gain only one Senate seat next year to recapture a majority in the upper chamber. But they are also facing a challenging electoral map and are defending 20 seats to Democrats’ 14, giving the GOP little room for error.
Greitens is also likely to face tough competition in the GOP primary. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced his candidacy on Wednesday, and a handful of other prominent Republicans, including Reps. Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerOn The Money: Yellen defends raising taxes ‘in a fair way’ to fund infrastructure plan | Senate confirms Young as deputy budget director | Fed creates climate financial risk panel Yellen defends raising taxes ‘in a fair way’ to fund infrastructure plan Former Missouri GOP Gov. Eric Greitens launches Senate bid MORE, Vicky HartzlerVicky Jo HartzlerAmbitious House lawmakers look for promotions House removes deadline for ratifying ERA Jill Biden visits Capitol to thank National Guard MORE, Jason SmithJason Thomas SmithBiden to unveil ‘skinny’ budget proposal next week Former Missouri GOP Gov. Eric Greitens launches Senate bid Ambitious House lawmakers look for promotions MORE and Billy LongWilliam (Billy) H. LongAmbitious House lawmakers look for promotions READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Missouri Rep. Billy Long wins GOP primary MORE, are said to be weighing Senate bids of their own.