On CNN’s State of the Union, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams was queried about a blatant display of pull-out-the-stops, election-week racism — by a Republican who wasn’t even speaking about her own hard-fought campaign for Georgia governor.
Abrams was asked about a controversial, derogatory southern term that agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue used during a rally on Saturday for Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.
“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,” Perdue said according to Politico.
His choice of the term “cotton-pickin” was, of course no accident. He almost certainly would have used a different qualifier had DeSantis’ opponent been white. DeSantis is running against Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is seeking to become Florida’s first black governor.
It was in other words, a racist trumpet. A bullhorn. A tuba. But Abrams, who is running to become Georgia’s first black governor, did not appear over fazed by the remark, and did not let the question throw her off stride.
“I think that there is certainly a throwback element to the language that we are hearing coming out of the Republican party that is unfortunately disparaging to some communities,” she said matter-of-factly.
“It may be unintentional, but it signals a deeper misinformation about what Andrew Gillum can accomplish, about what I can accomplish. And so what we are going to do is stand on our records and on our plans and we are going to win these elections,” Abrams added.
For Gillum and this general election this is far from the first incident of race playing a part in the rhetoric.
The day after his Aug. 28 primary victory, DeSantis in an interview on Fox News called Gillum “articulate” — a favorite backhanded compliment used by white people when referring to African Americans.
He followed up the remark with the unforgettable coinage of the expression “monkey this up” — a phrase no one has ever used, and no one ever has need to — unless trying to send a signal to racist supporters. When a Fox News correspondent called out the remarks DeSantis refused to apologize.
Of Perdue’s “cotton-picking'” comments, DeSantis’ campaign told Politico by email that they were excited to have him at the rally, without offering a hint of rebuke.
“You would have to ask Governor Perdue about any of his remarks. We were happy to have him in Polk County campaigning with us,” the email read.