FORT MYERS, Fla.Democrat Andrew Gillum stormed through deep-red Southwest Florida on the eve of a visit from President Trump and managed to avoid discussion of corruption allegations by taking questions from people hand-picked by his staff at an event Tuesday night.

Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor who's hoping to be Florida's next governor, exchanged barbs with Trump on Monday after Trump called Gillum “a stone cold thief” for accepting gifts and money from an FBI agent posing as a developer.

He responded to Trump in a tweet, “as my grandmother told me — never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it. So ignore him and vote, Florida!” Gillum is under a state ethics probe but claims not to be a subject of an FBI investigation.

Gillum repeated the pig-wrestling counterattack at Tuesday's town hall meeting in Fort Myers and was spared further questions about the ethics charges against him. Instead, most of the questions focused on the state’s environmental problems, such as persistent algae blooms and the proliferation of invasive pythons in the Everglades and what Gillum plans do about it.

Not one person asked about the corruption charges, and voters interviewed at the town hall later dismissed the scandals he's facing as a media exaggeration.

One voter said Gillum’s actions are far less troubling than allegations faced by past governors, including sitting Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who prior to running for office served as CEO of Columbia/HCA, which paid a $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud.

“That’s minor,” Ken Jaros, a retired engineer from Cape Coral, said when asked about the Gillum corruption charges, which include accepting a $1,000 ticket to "Hamilton" by the undercover FBI agent.

“They are making a bigger deal out of it than normal.”

Gillum has been battling corruption allegations that have been unfolding in the media for weeks. They include stories this week that suggest Gillum did not report a contribution by an FBI agent posing as a developer and a new report Tuesday that he used funds from his mayoral office to pay for a trip to meet donors ahead of his decision to run for governor.

Shari Lenz, a government worker from Cape Coral, said she doesn’t know whether to believe the string of media reports about Gillum accepting money from the FBI agent or about a trip with lobbyists to Costa Rica in which he appears to have not paid for his hotel accommodations.

“Right now, it’s all rumor and opinion,” Lenz said.

Former President Barack Obama will hold a rally for the Democratic ticket in Florida on Nov. 2 in an effort, like Trump, to generate excitement among the base.

Gillum and his Republican opponent, Rep. Ron DeSantis, are campaigning in counties that voted against their party in 2016.

DeSantis Tuesday morning campaigned in Hillsborough County, which in 2016 backed Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump 52 percent to 45 percent. DeSantis told the Washington Examiner his goal is not necessarily to win Hillsborough but to garner as many votes there as possible and perhaps make the loss margin a little slimmer for the GOP.

Gillum has a much steeper climb in Lee County, home of Fort Myers and part of the nearly solid-red southwestern part of the state DeSantis hopes will propel him to victory. The county overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2016, supporting the president over Democrat Hillary Clinton, 59 percent to 38 percent.

But Gillum predicted the effort would pay off.

“We are going to red areas, blue areas, purple areas,” Gillum told a packed auditorium at a Fort Myers recreation center. “We are going to areas where people have not seen Democratic nominees for governor compete for the vote.”

“We are going to turn this state blue," he added.

An average of recent polls show Gillum has a chance — he is leading Republican opponent Ron DeSantis, but only by a few points.

Trump will hold a rally in Fort Myers Wednesday in an effort to excite the GOP base to go out and vote for DeSantis as well as Scott, who is running for Senate and tied in the polls with his Democratic opponent, incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.