WATCH: Ellison Calls Past Praise of Farrakhan A ‘Distraction’

Congressman Keith Ellison on Wednesday dismissed reports about his past statements on Israel and praise of an anti-Semite as part of a “smear campaign” to distract from the real issues facing the Democratic Party in the future.

“This is about distracting and taking people away from the issues that really are at hand in this case, and I think it serves somebody’s political purpose to push this stuff, but it doesn’t serve the public interest to serve it,” Ellison, a candidate for DNC chair, said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

“I think that it is bad reporting because I have a ten-year record in congress, I have a four-year record in the Minnesota statehouse, I’ve practiced law for 16 years, and I just think that, you know, it’s just that kind of reporting that, you know, just that sort of reporting is not quality and doesn’t help people understand the real issues,” he added.

For clarification purposes, the show’s host, Joe Scarborough, posed the following question: “Do you believe that Louis Farrakhan is an anti-Semite?”

“Sure, but I mean, what does he have to do with anything going on in this race or this country at this time? Absolutely nothing,” Ellison replied. “We’re talking about something that happened in 1995. This was a year that the million man march took off. People were attacking the march at the time, and the march was a very good thing.”

Asked if he disavows comments which Jewish Democrats look at “with some fear and some trepidation,” Ellison said, “Man, I am telling you back in 2006 and before, I disavowed them. That is the ridiculous thing about this. We keep on having to answer these kind of stuff. But let me tell you, I don’t think people who are pushing it are genuinely curious. They don’t want to talk about what the Democratic Party needs to look like to be an effective vehicle for the hopes and dreams of average Americans.”

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