About a dozen parents and activists protested outside Republican Haley Barbour's campaign office in Jackson Friday.
They said Barbour should drop out of the governor's race for saying this week that some Head Start children would be "better off sitting up on a piano bench at a whorehouse than where they are now.''
Barbour spokesman Quinton Dickerson said Barbour was praising Head Start for helping children with difficult home lives. But Kathy Sykes of Jackson, whose son attended Head Start, said Barbour was speaking in code and insulting black people who live in poverty.
Ineva May-Pittman, chairwoman of the Jackson NAACP, said Barbour should not run for governor. Dickerson said the Barbour campaign would not comment Friday.
Barbour hopes to face Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove in the Nov. 4 election.