By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate Karin Housley is drawing criticism for a 9-year-old Facebook post in which she compared former first lady Michelle Obama to a chimp.

The comment, which has since been deleted, is from the state senator’s personal Facebook page.

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The Huffington Post featured the statement in a Monday story.

Housley is running against U.S. Sen. Tina Smith in the special election for the seat that was vacated by Al Franken. Franken resigned in December 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations.

The 2009 Facebook post references the 1951 movie “Bedtime for Bonzo” starring then-actor Ronald Reagan.

“Speaking of Bedtime for Bonzo, I think even that chimp stood up straighter than Michelle. Uh-oh, someone is going to make a comment,” the post read.

Housley’s campaign spokesperson said Housley was not available for comment, but a statement was released regarding the post.

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“It’s not surprising Tina Smith’s campaign is using an out-of-context Facebook post from ten years ago to manufacture outrage. This is what the radical left does when they are losing — they attack Republicans so they don’t have to come up with solutions to the problems Minnesotans are facing,” the statement said.

The vice president of the Minnesota/Dakotas NAACP had a strong reaction to the Housley Facebook post.

“In my opinion, her remarks were reprehensible, indefensible and unpardonable particularly for someone seeking to represent all of the citizens of Minnesota in the United States Senate,” Yusef Mjeni said.

The average of polls in the Smith/Housley race shows Smith with a 9.7 percent lead. Political analyst Larry Jacobs said,

“Tina Smith’s race against Karin Housley looks to be tipping in the favor of the DFLer,” political analyst Larry Jacobs said. “The last thing that Karin Housley needs is charges of racism lobbed against her,” he added.

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Smith offered a brief statement, saying “Minnesotans deserve a Senator who treats everyone with respect — even if you disagree.”

Esme Murphy