Who is Eric Greitens? According to his official website and his wiki page, he’s a former Navy SEAL. He’s a best-selling author. He’s a Rhodes Scholar. He’s also running for governor in the state of Missouri.
Most people, when running for office, spend a great deal of their time talking about the reasons they deserve the positions they aspire to fill. They talk about their accomplishments. They talk about their qualifications. They talk about the failures of their opponents. But mostly, they talk about themselves.
Eric Greitens has chosen a different tactic: he is spending his time listening. He has mounted a listening tour across the state of Missouri, apparently hanging the entirety of his campaign on the hope that a populist approach will distract voters from the fact that he has yet to outline any actual policy ideas.
His public Facebook page is filled with photos of townhall-style meetings with Missourians in multiple towns across the state. The comments range from nearly blind allegiance and requests that Greitens run for President to the usual internet trolls. But what is truly a concern is the number of times the following comments – or comments like them - appear:
What exactly is your position on this (or any) issue?
I love your books, but I’m still not quite sure what your politics are.
Why did you refuse to answer my question/delete my comment?
Brian Tharp, whose Facebook comment is pictured above, responded to inquiry explaining:
I asked if he had done campaign business with Jeff Roe. I also called his office asking simply for a return call, which I never received...I would like to get behind a good guy for governor, but not someone who employs Jeff Roe or any of his Axiom companies.
(The consultant Tharp mentioned, Jeff Roe, has been linked to late Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and others. Mother Jones Magazine nicknamed him "Ted Cruz's Karl Rove.")
Granted, there are questions that should not be dignified with answers. And there are comments that are absolutely deserving of deletion. But either Eric Greitens has racked up a few grade-A trolls in recent weeks, or he and his campaign staff are intentionally evading questions.
His apparent tendency to evade questions is no less noticeable in person. Questions about policy position are put off because Greitens is too busy “listening” to the people.
This past Friday, he spoke to a Republican group in the St Louis area. The Pachyderms, who meet monthly for lunch, invited him to speak as part of a series that will include all Missouri gubernatorial candidates. He gave a compelling speech that discussed his “conversion” from Democrat to Republican but revealed little about any potential policy specifics.
The consensus among those who have attended his campaign stops is that Greitens seemed “a bit like a political Rorschach Test,” remaining just non-committal enough that everyone sees in him what they want to see.
Scott Boston, a Missouri citizen who is routinely involved in local St. Louis politics, was present at the Pachyderms lunch – and for the unfolding of yet another mystery centered on the Greitens gubernatorial campaign: during his speech, Greitens mentioned an upcoming campaign event that would include former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
The implication was that Perry’s attendance at that event would also constitute an endorsement. Dana Loesch reached out to the Perry camp, who denied a Greitens endorsement or fundraising, saying:
"Gov met Eric at RJC in vegas, but no endorsement or trip."
The announcement of an upcoming event and the endorsement of another well-known politician seems straightforward enough on the surface. So what makes it such a mystery? For starters, no one notified the Perry campaign that they would be endorsing Greitens. A spokesman for the Perry campaign denied any plans for any event in support of Eric Greitens and any pending endorsement of the former Navy SEAL. Requests directed to the Greitens campaign for more information about any such event have thus far gone unanswered.
The potential candidates have only just begun their trek along the campaign trail. It seems that Greitens’ approach thus far has created more questions than answers and may have result in a far more difficult road going forward.