SPRINGFIELD — If there’s one thing to avoid at the Illinois State Fair, it’s stepping in the cow manure, and Evelyn Sanguinetti did her best Thursday to avoid doing that both literally and figuratively after her gaffe about cow-tipping.

The lieutenant governor candidate had a decidedly limited speaking role at Republican Day, seeming to be persona non grata for much of the day as Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn ridiculed her from afar.

In a Jan. 1, 2013 email to a friend who worked for the state, Sanguinetti asked if he knew of any job opportunities on the state payroll and ended the note asking, “Isn’t cow tipping a work requirement in Springfield (LOL)?” Lee Enterprises reported last week.

On Thursday, Quinn threw political cow patties at Sanguinetti for a remark that Springfield’s newspaper, the State Journal-Register, earlier in the week called an “unimaginative rural stereotype suggesting people here lack refinement.”

“I think she should apologize for those disrespectful remarks,” Quinn told reporters in Chicago. “That isn’t the right way to talk about anybody or any cow in Illinois. We’re proud of our cows. They’re the best that ever was.

“She ought to say she’s sorry to a bunch of cows,” Quinn said.

Sanguinetti was a no-show at a Republican unity breakfast in Springfield Thursday and seemed to tiptoe around the controversy while expressing her adoration for the State Fair during a brief speaking role at the Republican fair event

“Over the last six years, and I apologize to my kids already, this is a family tradition coming to this place,” Sanguinetti told the party faithful at the fairground rally. “And actually four years ago, my daughter and I were on this very stage, rooting on the Republican Party.”

While Sanguinetti didn’t directly address cow-tipping from the GOP stage, she told the State Journal-Register in a story published Thursday that her email to a colleague was intended only as a “jovial exchange” and was not “meant to say anything contrary to the people of Springfield.”

While her running mate, GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner, wouldn’t answer questions about the Sanguinetti cow-tipping flap as he left the party rally at the fairgrounds, he deftly wove a bovine reference into his speech, drawing cheers from his sign-waving audience of several hundred.

RELATED: Rauner on how to make a steer and how it relates to Quinn (video)

“You know what? I bet Pat Quinn and his Chicago machine political allies don’t even know what a steer is,” Rauner said. “You know what? A steer is a castrated bull. You know what?

“I tell ya,” Rauner continued, “Pat Quinn and his cronies, and these corrupt patronage workers, they know — they do know bull. You hear Pat Quinn generate a lot of bull when he’s talking about his failed record, failed record on jobs, on taxes, on schools.”

Dave McKinney and Natasha Korecki reported from Springfield. Sandra Guy reported from Chicago