Donald Trump’s former deputy campaigner told a black Fox News guest he is “out of his cotton-picking mind” during a live TV debate.
David Bossie and Joel Payne – a Democratic strategist - became embroiled in a heated exchange on Fox & Friends about the rhetoric employed when discussing immigration and other issues on Sunday.
Mr Payne accused the Trump administration and its supporters of using coded racism to attract certain parts of the US population.
He said: “You don’t have to be a golden retriever to hear all the dog whistles coming out of the White House these days and from my friend David here”.
Mr Bossie then drew attention to the fact former CIA director Michael Hayden compared the child detention centres for migrant children to Auschwitz.
“Yeah, that liberal Michael Hayden,” Mr Payne sarcastically replied.
This prompted Mr Bossie to respond: “You are out of your cotton-picking mind!”
“Cotton-picking mind?” Mr Payne interjected. “Brother, let me tell you something, I got some relatives who picked cotton and I’m not going to sit back and let you attack me on TV like that.
“Attack you how? You’re out of your mind,” Mr Bossie said.
“This is ridiculous, this is what’s gone on in America. This is what we’re about,” he said.
After an ad break, Fox News host Ed Henry said: “Bossie used a phrase that clearly offended Joel Payne and offended many others.”
The host also said he did not know what Mr Bossie had meant by the saying.
Mr Henry said: “I just want to address what happened in that debate, obviously got fiery, David Bossie used a phrase that clearly offended Joel Paine and offended many others. I don’t know what David meant by it.
“You know, what went back and forth between the two of them. I’ve known David a long time. I’ll let him address exactly what he said.
“But I want to make sure that Fox News and this show, myself, we don’t agree with that particular phrase. It was obviously offensive and these debates get fiery, that’s unfortunate. We like to have honest and spirited debates, but not phrases like that, obviously. And so I will just leave it at that.”
A Fox News spokesperson told The Independent: “David Bossie’s comments today were deeply offensive and wholly inappropriate. His remarks do not reflect the sentiments of FOX News and we do not in any way condone them.”
Mr Bossie also put out a tweet apologising for his comment.
Cotton picking was historically used to describe the work of African-American slaves who were forced to harvest cotton crops.
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