March 12th, 2012
11:38 AM ET
3 years ago

Romney on hugs from Southern girls

Mobile, Alabama (CNN) - Morning in Mobile dawned dark and stormy Monday, but a thunderstorm hovering over his outdoor event did not dampen Mitt Romney's air of confidence.

The GOP candidate, who has added additional events in Alabama and Mississippi over the past several days, sounded an optimistic note about the results of those state's Tuesday contests.

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"I just want to say thanks to you for giving me this birthday present," Romney told the audience, who braved a downpour to attend the rally on his 65th birthday. "I'm hoping to unwrap it tomorrow, by the way."

The swath of Southern states have long posed difficulties for Romney, who has struggled to win over some social conservatives and evangelical voters.

But polls in Mississippi and Alabama show the former Massachusetts governor is now competitive with his GOP rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, who consider the South to be friendlier territory and a potential springboard for their presidential efforts.

Former Georgia congressman Gingrich has mocked Romney's Southern outreach and charged his opponent was a weak front-runner.

Romney shrugged off that criticism Monday.

"If I'm a weak front-runner, what does that make Newt Gingrich?" Romney said in an interview with Fox News. "Because I'm well ahead of him."

As he spoke to a soaked crowd huddled under umbrellas at the Whistle Stop cafe in Mobile, the GOP candidate delivered more of the sort of lines Gingrich has liked to mock.

Romney said he'd tried catfish for the second time this weekend - over dinner with Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who endorsed him Friday - and declared he'd enjoyed the Southern delicacy.

At earlier stops the Michigan native has also raved about breakfasts of cheesy grits.

Something else he'd enjoyed during his campaign stops? Hugs from "Southern girls" - aged "from 12 to a lot more than 12."

As his audience squeezed in closely under the eaves of the restaurant, Romney remarked upon the intimacy of the gathering.

"Look at us in here," he said. "We are all nice together, all nice and wet, you know, like a can of sardines."

Concentrating on the financial experience he believes will lead him to triumph over his rivals, Romney urged those in the audience who believed Washington was broken to vote for him.

"If you think that Washington is a mess I hope you will send me there so I can fix it," he said. "If you think this country needs to be taken on a different direction than it's been going under the last three year years then I want your vote here in Alabama."

Without naming names, he added his rivals had spent too much time in Washington, telling the audience: "If you think that just having the same people go to the same place but just in different chairs is gonna make things different, why, you can vote for them."

And, standing alongside self-proclaimed "redneck" comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who has backed Romney and will campaign for him in the South, Romney also took an opportunity to poke fun at himself.

"I am looking forward to going there and hunting with you sometime," he told Foxworthy. "And you can actually show me which end of the rifle to point."

Also see:

Gingrich sins 'well short of the glory of God'

Santorum's war on teleprompters

Gibbs: Kansas was 'instructive' for Romney

Former presidential candidates play pundit


Filed under: 2012 • Alabama • Mitt Romney
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    I'm still waiting to hear what Mitt Romney's plans are for job creation, energy, and specific spending cuts so that he can balance the budget as he claims to do. So far his solutions for each of those problems have been the following promises.

    1. Jobs. Cut taxes on the job creators.
    2. Oil. Relax environmental regulations so that oil companies can drill in more places, while keeping their subsidies.
    3. Debt. Aside from endorsing the Ryan Plan, Mitt Romney has really come up empty on this front. He just blames Obama.

    March 12, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. Sniffit

    "Something else he'd enjoyed during his campaign stops? Hugs from "Southern girls" – aged "from 12 to a lot more than 12."

    Oh boy is he creepy weird. Calm down Mittens or we'll have to make yuo register yourself.

    March 12, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. Garrett

    When Mitt Romney wins one of these two southern states (if not both) it should end this race. I can't wait for Mitt to beat Oboma.

    March 12, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. TomInRochNY

    Oh, the comedians are going to have a field day with him throughout the election seaon.

    March 12, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    TomInRochNY

    Oh, the comedians are going to have a field day with him throughout the election seaon.
    -------------
    Did you say "going to"? You're close to NY-26, conservative country.
    Don't they have they lame stream media and SNL up there in Rochester?
    SNL has been poking fun of Mitt Romney, and the rest of the GOP field, for going on a year now.

    March 12, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Crimson Tide

    Romney is going to win with ease against these jokers and that includes Oboma.

    March 12, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. Alexanders.

    The sounth people are smart and I'm confident they all will vote for Mitt Romney. Unlike the N.C. religiously high values people. Who gave their vote to Newt. I wonder why? When Newt had so many affairs and was so disonest to most.

    March 12, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Laverne

    This guy is a "super goofball". He says the most bizarre things "We are all nice together, all nice and wet, you know, like a can of sardines." Really, who talks like that??

    March 12, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. cali girl

    Robmey is going to need more than hugs. He needs a whole new platform.

    March 12, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. k

    Enjoyed hugs from southern girls.....aged 12 ? creepy !!

    March 12, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. Romney is not My Hero

    Something else he'd enjoyed during his campaign stops? Hugs from "Southern girls" – aged "from 12 to a lot more than 12."

    As his audience squeezed in closely under the eaves of the restaurant, Romney remarked upon the intimacy of the gathering.
    ---------------------

    Is this whole thing disturbing to anyone else? Please grow a brain and DO NOT vote for this man.

    March 12, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    Hunh! Can you picture Obama commenting on "hugs from 12 year-old Southern girls"? You think people would take kindly to that from Barack?
    But since it's Wonder Bread Mittens it's allright.

    March 12, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Valentina

    Dear voters in Alabama and Mississippi – we are counting on you to deliver great victory for Gov. Romney tomorrow! The Republican Party must now unite behind our obvious nominee so that we can heal the wounds of the primary battles and prepare for the most important and perhaps the ugliest one – the general election battle. Please vote for Gov. Romney – he is the only one out of four still standing to deliver the victory in November.

    March 12, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |