Democratic nominee for Florida governor Andrew Gillum on Sunday laughed off remarks from the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, who used the term "cotton-pickin' " when discussing the governor's race during a Saturday an event in Florida.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor, was campaigning for Gillum's opponent, Republican Ron DeSantis, when he told a Lakeland room: "Public policy matters. Leadership matters. And that is why this election is so cotton-pickin' important to the state of Florida. I hope you all don't mess it up."
Gillum would be the state's first African American governor if elected.
Asked about the remarks on Sunday, Gillum told CNN: "He should go back to Georgia. We'll take care of Florida."
"We're trying our very best to end this race on a high note," Gillum said. "As I have said throughout the campaign, we're working to give voters something that they can vote for and not just against."
DeSantis' campaign told Politico, "We were happy to have (Perdue) in Polk County campaigning with us," but referred questions about the comments to Purdue's federal agency.
DeSantis has repeatedly faced questions about surrogates and supporters who made suggestive, and sometimes overtly racist, comments. At a recent debate, DeSantis said he wouldn't return donations he received from a supporter who used the N-word when tweeting about President Barack Obama.
"What he said was unacceptable and that's just the end of it," DeSantis told a Miami television station. "But we obviously had no agency in that at all and it really has nothing to do with me. So let's just focus on the issues. I can't control other people social media."
On his first full day as the GOP nominee for governor, DeSantis said on Fox News that Florida voters should not "monkey this up" by electing Gillum.