LAS VEGAS — Phil Housley has a hockey game to run here Tuesday night, but the Buffalo Sabres coach is offering support to his wife, as her campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in their native Minnesota is dealing with a firestorm of criticism.
Karin Housley's campaign is in crisis management mode after a story in the Huffington Post published Monday revealed Facebook posts that mocked Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, with many construing the Obama post to be racist. The posts were made in 2009, four years before Karin Housley became a member of the Minnesota State Senate. The story was picked up by the Washington Post later Monday.
"I don't really like to comment on politics, but because it's my wife, I support her," Housley told The Buffalo News after his team's morning skate Tuesday in T-Mobile Arena. "I think she's trying to make a difference doing the right things and her campaign committee is very aware of what's going on.
"For me, she has to continue to work hard, play fair and do the right things. This is unfortunate, but that's part of being in politics."
Karin Housley wrote after watching Michelle Obama meeting Queen Elizabeth II that she should "at least stand up straight." She then referenced the Ronald Reagan movie "Bedtime for Bonzo" that featured a chimpanzee when she wrote, "I do miss Nancy Reagan. Ronald even more. I think even that chimp stood up straighter than Michelle. Uh-oh, someone is going to make a comment."
As for Clinton, Karin Housley wrote she was a "porker in a blue pantsuit" in response to a friend's comment that Clinton "seems to be eating well."
Karin Housley is running against Tina Smith in a special election to finish Al Franken's term. Smith was appointed in January after Franken resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations.
"It’s not surprising the Huffington Post — basically an extension of the Democratic Party — would do Tina Smith’s dirty work for her,” Housley campaign spokesman Jake Schneider said in a statement to the Huffington Post. “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.”
Phil Housley said his wife is undeterred by the situation.
"I'm really excited for her," he said. "Her hard work is paying off. She's trying to make a difference and is getting a lot of support from constituents and it shows she's doing the right things.
"She works very, very hard, and she's trying to touch people around the state of Minnesota. You look at her schedule and it's jam-packed every day."
Karin Housley's campaign has seen an increased national profile in recent weeks, as she appeared on FOX News with host Sean Hannity and was called to the stage by President Trump at a rally in Duluth. Trump later tweeted that the state "needed" to elect Housley to the Senate seat.
"She's doing great. She keeps pushing forward," Phil Housley said. "She will continue to fight. She wants to be elected and these are things that happen in politics that you have no control over."
Phil and Karin Housley have been married for 35 years and have four children. She moved from Minnesota to join him in Buffalo in 1982, shortly after he was drafted first overall as an 18-year-old by the Sabres out of the Minnesota high school ranks.