GRAND FORKS -- U.S. Senate hopeful Gary Emineth went on defense just days after announcing his campaign when CNN published charged items from his social media history -- including an apparent call to ban new American mosques, a reference to Barack Obama as a “POS” and socialist and a fraught analogy that includes food stamp recipients and animals.

Asked how he might respond to a rival’s charge, based on CNN’s reporting, that he might not be fit for office, Emineth said he loves both his country and his family.

“And I want to give my family and friends the same opportunity I had to go out in this country and make a living and enjoy the fruits of their work. ...I’d say bring it on. I’m going to say what’s on my mind,” said Emineth, a businessman who previously served as the state GOP’s chairman.

Emineth also referred to CNN as “fake news” multiple times, though he did not specifically deny sharing any of the items CNN cited on his social media feeds. He also referred to “George Soros-type people around the country” hired to search the internet for such items, saying he invoked the donor’s name as “a funder of the far left.”

Additionally, Emineth said President Donald Trump has said “tougher stuff than this.”

When asked about specific social media items, Emineth walked back some of his activity, including an image CNN said he shared that called for a halt to the construction of new mosques. Asked if he ever believed, or still believed, that no new mosques should be built in the U.S., he said that “if they want to build mosques, they should be able to build mosques.”

He also said he did not know what “POS” meant until more recently, and was likely attempting to refer to Obama as “POTUS” -- an acronym for “President of the United States.”

“POS” is often deployed as an initialism for “piece of ....”

Other items noted by CNN included a Facebook comment that global warming is an “anti-American effort to bring America down” and apparent credulity for a fringe site’s article suggesting the Clinton family’s involvement in multiple deaths. All instances cited by CNN occurred between 2012 and 2016.

Emineth is seeking Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s seat and vying against multiple other Republicans for a spot on November’s ballot. In teasing his run last month, he staked out conservative positions on immigration, health care and the recent Republican tax plan and lauded President Donald Trump.

CNN notes that Emineth’s Facebook page “became inaccessible” after Emineth announced his candidacy, and that his Twitter account, which was briefly made private, saw 100 tweets deleted during that time.

The campaign of state Sen. Tom Campbell, a fellow Republican candidate from Grafton, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Current state GOP chairman Kelly Armstrong could not be reached for comment.