The first time I met Eric Greitens during an interview years before he decided to get into politics, I knew this guy had some political ambition. He was running The Mission Continues, the charity he founded to help struggling veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan integrate back into society, find a job and have a purpose again. I remember asking him off the air if he’d run for an office down the road and if he did, would he run as a Democrat or a Republican. He told me he didn’t know. I ended up forging a friendship with Eric and his wife Sheena and was invited to host the annual gala for The Mission Continues for several years in a row.
In the spring of 2014, my wife and I went over to have dinner with Eric and Sheena and that’s when he told me he was planning on running for governor. At the time I knew it was a possibility, but I thought he was crazy trying to beat the Missouri GOP establishment let alone the likely Democrat candidate then-Attorney General Chris Koster. I pretty much told Eric that at the time, but I also knew that he was a fighter and wouldn’t back down from challenge, no matter how big.
That’s what makes the events of the last week so confusing. Putting aside the personal disappointment of the affair, the alleged claims of a photo taken without consent and the possible blackmail, I’m left wondering why my friend, a former Navy Seal who faced life or death decisions, would essentially hide out in a bunker for the last week without answering any questions or addressing head-on the devastating claims made by the ex-husband of his former mistress. I’ve always felt that Eric was underestimated when it came to his knowledge of the issues and his ideas about how to fix what’s wrong with Missouri. I knew first-hand that he did a lot of homework before entering the race and even though I honestly felt he was still a huge long shot to win the nomination, let alone the general election, I had faith and believed in the guy.
I want to believe in him again, but it’s getting difficult. If this is truly a one-time deal and if the more salacious details aren’t true as the governor says, then why not confront the situation head-on? I haven’t spoken with or had communication with the governor since the story broke, but I have encouraged him and his team to come on my show to essentially have the needed Oprah “couch moment.” Answer questions, say you’re sorry and make it clear that this didn’t happen again outside of this incident and that it won’t happen again.
My concern is that the longer it takes to do a more public mea culpa, the more likely that there’s a second wave of stories coming. I’m hopeful that won’t happen and we can move on and focus on the issues important to the state, but the realist in me says that’s unlikely.