Pascagoula, Mississippi (CNN) – Mitt Romney swept into Mississippi Thursday to make his case in a state where he doesn't expect to win.
The former Massachusetts governor, who has struggled to woo voters in the South and faces a string of upcoming contests below the Mason-Dixon line, appealed to a group of about 120 Mississippians by feeling their pain.
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Romney rattled off three stories of people he had met at campaign events - a father worried about health care costs for his special needs child, another man who wondered how he would pay for his daughter's education and a soldier back from Afghanistan who struggled to find work.
"A lot of people hurting right now," he summed it up, and blamed President Obama for not following through on his campaign promises of economic turnaround from 2008.
"Since this president has been president, the cost of gas has doubled," Romney said. "Not exactly what he might have hoped for, and he says 'well it's not my fault.' By the way, we've gone from 'yes we can' to 'it's not my fault.'"
The re-jiggered lines in Romney's speech come a day after a campaign aide acknowledged the candidate was "working to establish a stronger connection with lower-income voters, with voters who are struggling."
In Ohio's primary, which Romney narrowly won, exit polls showed him trailing rival Rick Santorum among voters who made less than $50,000 a year.
The swath of Southern states that will vote in the upcoming days – Kansas, Mississippi and Alabama – have been hard hit by the economy. In Mississippi, where Romney makes another appearance Friday, the unemployment rate is over 10%.
Faced with an uphill climb in the South, Romney asserted in an interview with radio station WAPI that he hoped to walk away with some delegates in states such as Alabama, where he is not favored to win.
"That's of course what this is all about, getting the delegates necessary to become the nominee," he said, echoing his campaign's relentless focus on a numbers game they say Romney's opponents have no chance of winning.
In Mississippi, Romney did try out some Southern charm, telling his audience he was "an unofficial Southerner."
"I am learning to say y'all and I like grits, and things," he joked. "Strange things are happening to me."
But the ultimate compliment came from Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who endorsed Romney in Pascagoula.
"He just has a warm, comfortable way about him," Bryant told reporters. "I like to see a man when he's holding a baby. And he looks like he's held a baby before."
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he started with yes we can to its not my fault.
He looks like he's held a baby before???? Gee he should be president!!! Does he look like he's changed a diaper too??? Hell he could rule the freekin world.....Wow.
So as you pander answer me this . . . . sugar or salt?
Thank you, Gov. Phil Bryant! You are awesome!
Yes, Romney has held a baby before, Governor Bryant! Is that a reason to endorse him?
So Romney now likes grits along with tall trees. The poor guy will say anything, but I presume he did not mention that his wife drives two Cadillacs to this audience. (No one, even Southerners, really likes grits. Yuck.)
I have a horrible feeling that a lot of Southern bigwigs/politicians are being good to Romney because they think he might pick them as a VP to balance out the ticket and try to erase some of his elite northeasternism.
Blatant, pathetic pandering.
It's nice to see he's trying to get to know the people even though he knows he has no chance of winning any of those states.
Is there anything this man won't say to pandering to whomever he's in front of that day? Utterly shameless.
I like grits? I like NASCAR? I wear blue jeans? Is this for real? The corporate hedge fund raider, Boston banker likes grits and NASCAR? Is he telling the truth I wonder.
Another amazing contortion by the human pretzel. Even Cirque de soleil performers would be amazed at the painful shift shaping this man can do. None of it genuine, but hey, anything for a vote.
Why would anyone in the state of Mississippi vote for the GOP after what Haley Barbour did and got away with....
Most people, like Romney, don't like grits and don't know beans about the South. That Yankee won't stand a chance getting many those good ole boy votes.
Santorum will do best in Mississippi. This state traditionally ranks last in education, healthcare and standard of living. It ranks high in percentages of Teavangelicals and right-wing radicals. Stupid votes for Santorum and Mississippi can meet that requirement!
Uhh, CNN? Kansas is not in the South.
In Idaho, Mitt comments "I like potatoes".
In Nebraska ... "I like corn".
In Texas ... "I like BBQ".
In Miami ... "I like Cuban food".
In short, Mitt likes pandering.
Am I the ONLY one in the WORLD that can see that by Gingrich staying in the race, he will ONLY leech votes from Santorum and continue to hand Romney victory after victory?
He seems to be one to say anything to get elected. His statements from when he ran for US Senate don't match what he is saying now. I don't see he is any better than others trying to get elected.
I'm a Hillary Clinton Democrat who did not vote for obama in 2008.. voted Independent .. this time around I will again not vote for obama.. this Democrat will cross party lines and vote for the more qualified candidate (again) , Mitt Romney.
Likes grits! LOL Thought the comment by the Gov was weird at best.
What a tool. I am looking forward to the President mopping the floor with this fool.
I wonder if Romney blamed former President Bush when gas prices went close to 4 dollars a gallon back in late 2007 early 2008? I wonder if he or other Republicans gave President Obama any credit when gas had gone down under 3 dollars a gallon just a few months back? These are rhetorical questions I know because the answer to both of them is NO. With social media and the ability to look at tapes and the past all one need to do is hit a search engine and see what the Republicans and even FoxNews said to defend then President Bush against the climbing gas prices back then. But being the sheep that they are of course they WON'T. Romney as usual will say ANYTHING to try to get elected from the height of trees in Michigan to now that he likes grits in Misssissippi or the please the way far right by not defending women against what Limbaugh has said. Purely pathetic and it will catch up with him.
Well that's true presidential material - whether or not one has held a baby before. (By the way, Gov, there are lots of videos of President Obama holding babies).
He will always be a yankee no matter how many grits he eats.
And the price of gas was even higher under President Bush. So what's your point?
Romney rattled off three stories of people he had met at campaign events – a father worried about health care costs for his special needs child, another man who wondered how he would pay for his daughter's education and a soldier back from Afghanistan who struggled to find work.
Did he tell them why none of his five sons avoided military service ? Or Maybe why his sons trust funds are tax deductible.