SPONSORED:

Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 - Biden tasks Harris on border; news conference today Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality 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 TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks MORE at several points in the conversation, blaming the media for spreading false information about himself and Trump. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 BluntDC delegate pushes for removing Capitol fence despite car attack Coons says bipartisan infrastructure package 'likely' to be smaller, not fully financed Biden says compromise 'inevitable' on infrastructure plan 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 GiulianiGaetz hires legal counsel amid DOJ probe Georgia lieutenant governor: Giuliani election claims helped lead to new voting law Rep. Lee Zeldin announces bid for New York governor MORE, the former New York City mayor and Trump’s personal attorney, as well as Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeMissouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview Overnight 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 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 WagnerGOP seeks new line of attack on Biden economic plans Trump pollster: Greitens leads big in Missouri GOP Senate primary Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview MORE, Vicky HartzlerVicky Jo HartzlerThe Navy's reading program undermines America's security Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview Ambitious House lawmakers look for promotions MORE, Jason SmithJason Thomas SmithWhite House delays release of budget plan Trump pollster: Greitens leads big in Missouri GOP Senate primary Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview MORE and Billy LongWilliam (Billy) H. LongTwitter CEO pokes fun at Congress's hearing questions with 'yes or no' poll Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview Ambitious House lawmakers look for promotions MORE, are said to be weighing Senate bids of their own.