NAMPA — Local Democratic leaders expressed frustration Friday with a billboard in Caldwell that shows President Obama next to Colorado mass-shooting suspect James Holmes.

The billboard, operated by a foundation from the estate of the late Caldwell libertarian firebrand Ralph Smeed, says of Holmes “Kills 12 in movie theater with assault rifle, everyone freaks out” and of Obama “Kills thousands with his foreign policy, wins Nobel Peace Prize.”

Smeed Foundation contact Maurice Clements could not be reached for comment Friday.

“I think even Ralph Smeed would object to it,” Canyon County Democratic Party communications director Judy Ferro said. “There’s no factual basis to it at all … it’s just offensive.”

Smeed’s billboard at Franklin Road and North 21st Avenue just off Interstate 84 has long stirred controversy with its anti “statism” and libertarian messages. Smeed died in 2010, but a trust was established to keep the billboard in operation.

The billboard’s message drew more than 70 comments, most of them critical, on the Idaho Press-Tribune’s Facebook page Friday.

“To the extent that it feeds rage and anger and divisiveness, it’s unhelpful to the public debate,” Canyon County Democratic Party Chairman Bob Solomon said about the billboard. “It’s just going over the top.”

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