ST. PAUL, Minn. - Gubernatorial candidate for governor Jeff Johnson has denounced the Twitter message that turned a tribute to comedian-actor Robin Williams into a political debate.

MN GOP Deputy Chair Chris Fields responded to a tweet by Ellen C. Anderson, Director of Digital Media and Social Organizing for the Minnesota DFL, who mentioned that her cat was named after Williams.

Fields referenced the politics of President Ronald Reagan and called on voters to support Jeff Johnson for Governor when he Tweeted, "@ellencanderson how very 80's. Want an economy like we had in 80's under Reagan...Vote @Jeff4Gov tomorrow in the primary." He eventually deleted the tweet, but not before coming under fire on Twitter. He continued to defend his tweets before apologizing on Tuesday afternoon.

"Last night on Twitter I sent the wrong message," Fields said in a news release. "My comments were insensitive and inappropriate, and they clearly do not reflect the views of the Republican Party of Minnesota. I am sincerely sorry for my actions."

Earlier on Tuesday, Johnson tweeted a response saying that "mixing Robin Williams' death w/politics were inappropriate & wrong. America will dearly miss him."

Republican leaders seemed determined to not let the flap become a distraction on primary election day. "We're focused on the election today, we are not going to be distracted," said GOP Party Chairman Keith Downey. "We've got a lot of important activities to get out the vote and support our candidates."

Not surprisingly, Democratic officials have a different take.

"It's very bizarre. It's off-message for the Republican party," said DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin. "But it's not completely surprising, given what I have seen and know of Chris Field over the last several years. He has the propensity for making bizarre and outrageous comments and this is just the latest from him."

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