President Barack Obama has very frequently come under fire for purportedly embracing socialist ideals. While some have called these characterizations unfair, others have continued to maintain that Obama’s ideals dance on a line that very easily earns him such a distinction. Now, an alleged 1996 advertisement from the Hyde Park Herald, a community newspaper in Chicago, touts an appearance by Obama at an event sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), among other groups.

BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski says that the ad is “a reminder that the President presented himself as much more progressive during his time in Chicago.” Now, it’s important to note that Obama appeared with other professors and experts on the panel and according to the ad, the discussion, entitled, “Employment and Survival in Urban America,” was centered upon “economic insecurity.”

Here’s the ad in question:

Flyer Shows Barack Obama Spoke at 1996 Socialist Event

This isn’t the first time that purported evidence of Obama’s attachment to socialist organizations has emerged. In the past, he has been accused of having ties to the Chicago New Party, a leftist political movement that many on the right — and left — have derided as fringe (the group is no longer operational). This photo was purportedly found on the front page of a New Party News pamphlet back in 1996:

Flyer Shows Barack Obama Spoke at 1996 Socialist Event

In 2008, as Gateway Pundit has noted, Obama’s “Fight the Smears” web site tackled the issue of the New Party and attempted to dismiss any notion that he was an affiliated member:

Right-wing hatchet man and conspiracy theorist, Stanley Kurtz is pushing a new crackpot smear against Barack falsely claiming he was a member of something called the New Party.

But the truth is Barack has been a member of only one political party, the Democratic Party. In all six primary campaigns of his career, Barack has has run as a Democrat. The New Party did support Barack once in 1996, but he was the only candidate on the ballot in his race and never solicited the endorsement.

Flyer Shows Barack Obama Spoke at 1996 Socialist Event

This particular newspaper blurb doesn’t claim that Obama is a member, but it does seem — at least based on the print — that the politician was welcoming of the New Party’s endorsement. This, in itself, though, doesn’t provide evidence that the president was an actual member of a socialist group. Instead, it shows that there was an affiliation and a relationship of some sort.

Gateway Pundit goes on to share other evidence that is believed to validate that a meaningful relationship existed between Obama and the fringe New Party. But beyond these elements, other comments the president has made over time have created some questions worth asking.

Consider Obama’s call in 2007 for universal healthcare – yet another incident that seemed to add to the narrative that he endorses, or is at least sympathetic to, socialistic ideals.

“The time has come for universal health care in America,” the then-candidate proclaimed at a Families USA conference on health care. ”I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country.”

None of these elements offer definitive proof of a socialistic mindset, but they do raise questions — questions that will likely re-emerge and continue to swirl during the 2012 presidential campaign.