March 8th, 2012
04:51 PM ET
9 years ago

Romney: The South is an 'away game'

Pascagoula, Mississippi (CNN) - The question to Mitt Romney from a talk radio host at WAPI-AM in Birmingham, Alabama was straightforward enough.

"How important is it for you to pick up a southern state," the host asked Romney Thursday.

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"I realize it is a bit of an away game," Romney quipped, using a sports metaphor.

The former Massachusetts governor knows he is not in Boston anymore as he faces a handful of critical contests in the nation's Deep South over the next three weeks, more than enough time for the momentum in the GOP race to swing back to his rivals once again.

Romney told the Birmingham radio audience he remains focused on winning delegates, if not contests, in places like Alabama and Mississippi where primaries will be held next Tuesday. Louisiana and Missouri come later this month.

"I am confident we are going to get some delegates. That's of course what this is all about," Romney added.

Chip Saltsman, the campaign manager for Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign, has dubbed the coming weeks of the campaign "March Madness" for Romney as several states in the calendar ahead are not exactly tailor-made for a New England Republican.

"I agree this is an away game for him," Saltsman said.

But Romney, Saltsman said, could perform better than expected if Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich deliver an even split of the region's conservative vote.

"I think what we're really going to find out over the next couple of weeks is how much Santorum and Gingrich are hurting each other," Saltsman said.

"In early polling we've seen from the states, they're almost split right down the middle, which gives Mitt Romney an opportunity to win one of these states," he added.

Romney is making his first deep dive into the South as a presidential candidate. Huckabee dominated the region on Super Tuesday in 2008. As a result, the former Massachusetts governor remains largely unknown to southern voters.

"He's a pretty boy. He's intelligent. He's got a business background. I like that," Mississippi voter Eric von Suthoff said over a plate of fried chicken inside the Annex restaurant in Pascagoula, a major ship building port on the Gulf Coast.

"I can't get over that feeling that he thinks he looks like the president more than he will be one," von Suthoff joked.

Across the table, von Suthoff's friend Glenn Travis was much more receptive to Romney's candidacy.

"We don't mind if he's moderate. Right there in the middle. That's what it's going to take," Travis, an Alabama voter, said.

"A business mind, what Eric mentioned, is definitely what Washington needs," Travis added.

Also see:

Obama and Romney ahead in ad fight

First on CNN: Santorum super PAC hits Alabama and Mississippi airwaves

Obama releases movie trailer a week before campaign film's debut

Cindy McCain defends Palin over HBO film

Filed under: 2012 • Alabama • Mississippi • Mitt Romney
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Don

    Woman in California,

    Which state was also a big supporter for women's rights? You guessed it Utah. Utah was one of the first states to allow women to vote. Mormons have been fighting for equal rights and peaceful causes since it's birth. Please quit being ignorant and study the real history.

    March 8, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. Pragmatic Conservative

    @ Woman In California
    I think you need to look at the LDS faith again. Baptizing the dead is spoken of in the Bible. The LDS Church undertakes active missionary work in Africa. I'm not sure where you got the "dirty rags" comment, but it is not reflective of the Church or of its teachings. And as for "satan leanings," you mean things like teaching people to be honest in their interactions with others, to give to charity, to love and help their neighbors of all faiths, to avoid alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and to refrain from sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage? Is that what you believe Satan teaches, because if so, I think you are getting him confused with someone else.

    March 8, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. Dave

    Mr Personality cares much more about his Clear Channel conections than that of a young woman getting called a slut & a prostitute. What an absolute no backbone, gutless, pathetic man!

    March 8, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  4. Kris LV

    Who that is Mormon has refered to black people as "filthy dirty rags"? I'm sure you can come up w/ 1 crazy person, but you can also come up with 1 person from every demographic out there including probably a black person. I have been LDS my entire life and never have I seen or heard of satanic practices in our church nor our temples. Lastly baptism for the dead is not baptizing dead people. It is through proxy so that those that didn't receive one in this life can obtain salvation. By the way look it up in your own bible. "Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?"
    (1 Cor. 15:29)

    March 8, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  5. Kris LV

    Woman In California


    I wish southerners and diehard social conservatives were more receptive to Gov. Romney, but even if Romney doesn't win their hearts he will be the GOP nominee when all the dust settles. In the head-to-head with Obama in November I am willing to bet $100.00 bucks that Romney will defeat Obama and will become our 45th President.

    I've never said this before and I know it's not Christian but I can't help it when it comes to Willard. IF you are right, I hope he is the 5th president that "this" happens to. I loathe Willard.

    You are right that is not Christian and you are obviously a bigot.

    March 8, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  6. alyarby

    Regardless of what liberals write here, when November rolls around Republicans, conservatives, and one truckload of moderate independents are going to vote for whomever the GOP nominee is. They are going to vote against Obama. And considering that Obanma is trying to topple this nation into the ocean, that's really all that matters.

    March 8, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  7. Valentina

    @ Woman in California – good Lord have mercy, why may I ask you "loathe Willard"? Wait, wait, oh yeah, because he is Mormon. You know, Woman in California, you need forgiveness and redemption if that's the case.

    March 8, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. Is Mitt a Git?

    The vetting of Mitt Romney has only begun. We know what the republican candidates are saying about Obama, and it is nothing new. Since Mitt has never been a national candidate, there is still lots out there to be discoverd.

    Mitt, I will bet you $10,000 that the Obama camp is gathering loads of info on you, with art to back it up, so you won't be able to explain your way out of it like you tried to with the Blunt bill. Stupid, liying, egotistical plutocrat. Putin will have your head on his platter if you are elected, so you should think twice.

    March 8, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. Valentina

    @ Satberry – ignorance can be cured, but stupidity is forever my friend. Intolerant people like you should not be allowed to vote.

    March 8, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    "I don't really travel much to the South, but I'm friends with some plantation owners"

    -Mitt Rmoney

    March 8, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    Valentina I'll take that "bet"! Wanna pay me now?! lol!
    Obama 2012.

    Hey Mittens an "away game" would be more like Canada or Mexico. These are still the UNITED States. Dumbazz.

    March 8, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. Ben

    I will say this. Romney thinks he can stimulate the economy by doing favors for rich people and corporations. It's the same trickle down drivel we've been hearing for 30 years. It's just so obviously wrong-headed.

    People... Look at the world. Money flows from poor people to rich people...not the other way around. That's why they're poor people and rich people.

    I know that's incredibly common common sense. But a lot harvard business grads don't seem to understand it.

    March 8, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    Woman in California: Deep breaths in, slowly out. I hear and understand you, but we're not going there with them my sister.

    March 8, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  14. rw

    Why won't Romney go on MEET THE PRESS? What is he afraid of?

    March 8, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  15. Maxx

    Yeah, we need to give the country back to the same people who caused this mess because they did so well last time. Romney's business experience is about making himself a lot of money regardless of the casualties along the way – think that's going to help your children and grandchildren?

    March 8, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  16. vhalen

    I think we need a Mormon or Jewish president. This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world, and we havn't turned a profit yet.

    As far as being out of touch with Southern values. What about being a reputable family man is not to like, regardless if you feel he is not Christian. Certainly Newt Gingrich can't be the model of southern values with multiple aldulterous affairs....if it is...the South is messed up. Even if you don't like the Mormon religion...its not about his religion, its his ability to turn things around. So far, things are not turned around.

    I also want to say, I am not anti- Obama. He is my current president, and I wish him luck in getting things going. If there is anyone I detest, its the Congress and Senate.

    Also a question for anyone that wants to opine? Can any candidate, from either party keep a fraction of the promises they make, when the Congress and Senate are so partisan? I gotta say that is my largest concern with the whole process. No matter who we elect, they are powerless to deliver on anything..

    March 8, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  17. Lynn Otting

    Romney has no ideas that he truly believes, so rather than argue a position, he ridicules his opponents. He can’t run ads promoting his achievements, so he runs misleading and inaccurate ads condemning his opponent’s achievements. He has zero experience with foreign affairs. Even though, Republicans want to view the Bain Company as capitalism at its best, I seriously doubt most average voters will think making billions of dollars in profit at the expense of closing small town manufacturing companies is anything but capitalism at its worst. Do Republicans really think Romney will get the support of Americans who are frustrated with not having a job and who are angry about having no extra money? He is the perfect candidate for President O'bama's “tax the elite one percent” campaign.

    March 8, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. ...a laurel and hardy handshake....

    Willard Mitthouse Romney will certainly have his hair full in the South – light yourself right now, Mitthouse, SO THAT THOSE SOUTHERNERS CAN SEE YOU !!
    Newt and Sanitarium will be at home but who can OUT-SATAN WHO in the South ??
    Ron Paul, though a fairly astute candidate, will simply make appearances.
    So to the next 4+ years, LET US SEE PRESIDENT BARAK OBAMA leading the country out of THE CHENEY-ROVE-DUBYA DEPRESSION !!

    March 8, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. Randy

    How can Romney beat Obama when he couldn't even beat John McCain?


    March 8, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  20. Ron

    LOL. Republicans have so lost this election cycle it's not even funny. Their war on women has prety much sealed the deal. If they can win without women and minorities, good on them.... I suspect that very soon you'll see the republicans in congress who are up for re-election start moving to the middle in an effort to avoid the reckoning. It won't help. Democrats will win by landslide. Republican/Independent women really would rather vote for a democrat than go back 30-50 years in time. That's what a republican president/congress will do for America. Say what you will, but you know it's true. Maybe, those republican women should cut the boys off for a few months and see if that gets them to wake up?? LOL

    March 8, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |

    The South needs to step up their game and elect someone who actually has the experience and skillet needed to turn the country around. Stop voting based on religion and social issues which will always be contested.

    March 8, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  22. Santorum Fan

    Santorum will win the South. He stands for the values of the majority, and it is time for the majority to stand up. Vote for Santorum!

    March 8, 2012 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  23. jaime

    No Matter,romney Will Be The One To Face Obama. They Will Both Screw The Country. But Obama Will Destroy The Country.

    March 8, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  24. Halvi

    I am surprised by the bigotry found in some of the comments posted here. Seriously, lashing out at a person's faith is not only against the principles of our country, it is against the principles of Christ's teachings! Romney is a good man, and as an active member of the LDS church, he embraces the values good Christians hold dear. And I think if you would take time to examine his life and the lives of his immediate family, you would find that he is exactly the kind of man, Christian and leader this country needs. Really, people of faith need to unite together and fight secular, anti-religion leftists instead of tearing fellow believers. Also, what kind of conservative and/or Republican engages in class warfare. The fact that Mr. Romney is successful shows that he knows how to lead and succeed.

    March 8, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  25. Varg

    How can you even compare bush and obama!! Bush started presidency with surplus and economy was booming. Obama started under recession!
    Bush started when China and India consumption of oil was low. By the time obama started, China and India increased Oil consumption multiple times. Bush started when there was no war. Obama startstarted when there are three wars.
    Bush had atleast 70% cooperation from Congress and Democrats passed Bush's agenda sometimes even when they are not 100% convinced. Obama is getting opposition and obstruction from Republicans even for Republican leaning ideas.
    These are just a few examples.

    March 8, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
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