A candidate hoping to become the Republican party's next nominee for U.S. Senator from South Dakota has generated buzz for her campaign this week after comparing food stamp recipients to wild animals in a Facebook post.
Dr. Annette Bosworth posted an image to her campaign Facebook page Monday, which compares the National Park Service's policy of discouraging feeding wild animals to the food stamp "hand out program" to provide a "lesson in irony."
"The food stamp program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture," text on the image reads. "They proudly report that they distribute free meals and food stamps to over 46 million people on an annual basis."
"Meanwhile, the National Park Service, run by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us, 'Please do not feed the animals,'" the text continues. "Their state reason for this being that... 'The animals will grow dependent on the handouts, and then they will never learn to take care of themselves."
The post on the candidate's campaign Facebook page has been shared more than 50,000 times, far more than the vast majority of her other recent posts. Comment reactions have been both positive and negative, with the top comment reading, "Nice work comparing human beings to animals in nature. You must have the brain of another animal."
Another top comment reads, "Wait, didn't the American government hand over billions of dollars to the rich to bail them out from their own ineptitude? Priorities people. The poor are NOT the problem."
Even some of the more sympathetic commenters seem to question the basis of the argument. "The only issue i have with this are children in families that would not eat if not for the food stamps," another comment reads. "Children do not get to choose their parents."
Roughly three-quarters of all food stamp households include a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person, and those households receive 83% of all SNAP benefits, according to the nonprofit group Feeding America.
Bosworth is far from the favorite in the primary race, which former GOP Gov. Mike Rounds is expected to win. A poll taken last September found Bosworth in dead last, with only 6% of the primary vote, well behind Rounds at 58% and the response "not sure" which received 22% support. Since then, she has managed to pick up some financial support, but has had to go into debt to fund her campaign, according a report from local outlet the Argus Leader.
Bosworth has tried to help harness the attention, both negative and positive, and use it to help her campaign. Thursday morning she posted multiple unrelated images along with the message, "More dishonest attacks from the left. We are being attacked by a far left wing group. Please help us get our message out by making a contribution today."
Voters are scheduled to cast ballots in the South Dakota primary in early June.