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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Okay, all you Romney supporters that say because you think he's been a successful businessman that he would a great president – why do you want someone that may have business skills, but certainly does NOT have diplomatic skills to be our president and the Leader of the Free World? The President has to be well rounded and be able to deal with many issues, not just our economy. President Obama does this quite well and I just don't see where Romney would do this country justice in the global environment.
Grits. They're soft, gooey, malleable, don't stand up straight, don't hold any real positions on any given political/policy issue and if you bother to talk to them, you're wasting your time. What a perfect analogy for Mittens.
Romney also spoke to a man who makes $235,000 a year, emphasizing to the voter that he sympathizes with his kind, the poor.
FYI, Mittens, I love New England clam chowder but that doesn't make me a New Englander.
i like trees in my grits
But what does he eats his grits with. That will tell you if he's genuine or not.
He's already told you, "things". I've already tried to tell him that those "things" in his grits are shrimp.
I don't trust a politician whose jeans always look brand new.
Romney with staff prior to visit: Romney -"What is a grit?"
The grits in Mississippi are exactly the right height!
(campaign staffer whispers to him) Those were the trees sir, in Michigan, remember, your 3rd home state, or was that your first, I can't keep it straight. Anyway, grits are food, you eat them.
(Romney hitches up the fake smile, and addresses the crowd) Which is, of course, to say the CUPS that you serve the grits in are exactly the right height here!
(staffer smacks himself on the forehead) BOWLS? The bowls I mean!
Mitt's a twit but he likes grits.
You forgot to say Mitt would have all Mississippians declared 'illegal immigrants' and ship them to Mexico!
Romney has foot and mouth disease. He just insulted some people that talk different and eat different than he does. I like bagels and philly cheesesteak and nothing strange has happened to me. Leave grits alone, what next livermush.
Well I live in Michigan but I don't like cherries.... Does that mean I am not a Michiganian?? This guy changes like the average person changes underwear.
I would say anything to please anybody. After all, I am a politician AND I have record for flip flopping. I just Go with the Wind!
He never ate tgrits before now,bet'cha. Eating grits is beneath his privilige. He's trying to be all things to all people and failing miserably at being himself.
FLIndependent – Okay, all you Romney supporters that say because you think he's been a successful businessman that he would a great president – why do you want someone that may have business skills, but certainly does NOT have diplomatic skills to be our president and the Leader of the Free World?
Obama had ZERO skills and experience yet you had no problem with that. What's the issue all of sudden?
Romney couldn't do any worse than Obama has done. I have come to understand why he always wants to lead from behind. It is much easier for him to push our allies under the bus from that position.
@James Wilson – The federal government did pick up the tab on security at the Salt Lake Winter Games. They picked it up directly in the form of Department of Homeland Security. Those federal dollars to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee were not solely for the purpose of security. They still had a fund raising shortfall to make up.
Besides, do you actually think the Bush administration would have trusted the security of the Olympic Games to a bunch of folks who had no access to national intellligence? Or even would have brought those people into the national intelligence loop? If they did, then Bush administration was much dumber than I ever thought.
Rmoney is the 1.........%!
I like Flip-Flop. I like CA gals....heee...
Now if I saw Mitt "noodling" for a Miss. Catfish, then I'd be convinced he was a Southerner.
This guy is such an idiot. He doesn't have a clue what grits are much less what they taste like. I just find it incredible that anyone listens to anything that comes out of this morons mouth.
"He just has a warm, comfortable way about him," Bryant told reporters.
Do 'warm' and 'comfortable' have different meanings in Mississippi than the rest of the world?
Obama 2012 – Because he can hold a baby AND lead the free world
I like gritis, I like trees! What has that to do with election??? Sorry, this man Romney has no clue at all how to sell his ideas. Or may be has nothing to sell.
Meriam.....wait until it's your job he comes looking for!
Romney is the 1% of the 1%
Hmmm. First he likes some trees, and then he likes some grits. Hmmm. Me, TOO, dude.