By Kyle Potter / AP
Updated: October 15, 2018 3:19 PM ET

(ST. PAUL, Minn.) — Republican Minnesota Senate hopeful Karin Housley’s campaign said Monday that a 2009 Facebook post in which she compares Michelle Obama’s posture to that of a chimpanzee was being taken out of context.

Housley’s comments about the former first lady were one of a handful of controversial social media posts first reported by The Huffington Post. She made the posts long before running for statewide office against Democratic Sen. Tina Smith or the state Senate seat she’s held since 2013.In a string of comments, Housley wrote that then-first lady Obama should “at least stand up straight.” After referencing a Ronald Reagan movie that features a chimpanzee, Housley continued: “I think even that chimp stood up straighter than Michelle. Uh-oh, someone is going to make a comment.”

Housley also targeted former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling her a “porker in a blue pantsuit” in response to a friend’s comment that Clinton “seems to be eating well.”

Housley’s campaign spokesman Jake Schneider accused Smith’s campaign of “using an out-of-context Facebook post from 10 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,” Schneider said.

Public polling in Minnesota has shown Smith slightly ahead of Housley as they compete in the special election to finish former Sen. Al Franken’s term. Smith was appointed to the seat in January after Franken resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations.

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

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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