MOBILE, Ala. – Mitt Romney observed his 65th birthday on Monday by poking fun at his unfamiliarity with the South while asking voters here to give him a primary victory this week and speed up his progress toward the Republican presidential nomination.
Romney said he was hoping to “unwrap” his birthday present on Tuesday, a present he made clear he hopes will be a bounty of convention delegates in his march to the 1,144 he needs to lock up the nomination. The Associated Press calculates that Romney has 454 delegates to 217 for Rick Santorum, his closest competitor.
“I need even more delegates, so if you guys are able to do that for me we could well take this over the top at a very fast pace,” Romney told about 150 people at The Whistle Stop restaurant, and added: “You guys by voting multiple times can make a big difference. Just kidding!”
The former Massachusetts governor was in a kidding mood. “I’m looking forward to going out and hunting with you sometime and you can actually show me which end of the rifle to point,” he said as he chatted up voters. “Last night I was in Mississippi, by the way, and I had catfish for the second time. It was delicious, just like first time.”
A torrential downpour forced Romney to give short speeches both outside and inside the restaurant. He was joined by Jeff Foxworthy, a comedian known for the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and the quiz show Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
“We have a test here. What do you think: If you spend more money every year than you take in, is that good for the economy? Even the fifth graders figured that one out. If you've got a bunch of oil in Canada, would you tell them don't bring it to the U.S., send it to China? Is that a good idea? … How about this: How about raising taxes on small businesses, do you think that'll create jobs for small businesses?” Romney asked as the crowd chanted, “No!”
“I'm afraid the president has failed the show. I know he's smarter than a fifth grader but I sometimes wonder why he does the things he does,” he said.
Foxworthy said he abstained from politics for his entire life until deciding to support Romney. “I looked him in the face and I asked him one thing. I said, 'Can you fix this?' ” Foxworthy said. “And he did not blink. He said, ‘Yes, I can.’ "