As voters in the Deep South prepared to head to the polls in Republican primaries this week, on-again-off-again frontrunner Mitt Romney has undergone a Southern makeover in an effort to overcome his obvious cultural disadvantages in the region.A Mormon Yankee campaigning in Birmingham and Jackson, Romney has gone into full pander mode to win over Southern voters, dropping his ‘g’s and touting his new love of cheesy grits and catfish. The results have mostly been awkward, with Romney accidentally heckling NASCAR fans and asking guitarist Randy Owen of Alabama to play Lynard Skynard’s “Sweet Home Alabama.”
But Romney’s Southern outreach turned borderline creepy in Mobile, Ala., on Monday, when he started asking for hugs from his supporters — the female ones.
“Please give us a big hug, that’s the girls,” Romney said, according to Politico. He added, “I’ve been getting hugs from the Southern girls…from 12, to well, a lot more than 12.”
The uncomfortable comments didn’t end there. Romney proceeded to wish his audience a “fine Alabama good mornin’,” despite the fact that driving rains had forced the crowd to cram underneath a restaurant awning.
“Look at us in here,” Romney said, remarking on the intimacy of the event. “We are all nice together, all nice and wet, you know, like a can of sardines.”
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