Pandermonium hits the South as Romney tries Southern “makeover”

Posted by: ST on March 10, 2012 at 11:02 am

Oh brother:

JACKSON, Miss. — Meet the new Mitt Romney — the grit eatin’, critter stompin’, country music lovin’,y’all sayin’ presidential candidate.

It’s been a quick makeover, one that’s probably not going to stick around beyond Tuesday’s primaries in Mississippi and Alabama. But it’s been fun to watch the transformation, rolled out during a two-day, three-rally swing that look an awful lot like every other campaign event the ex-Massachusetts governor has had in recent months — save his conversion into an “unofficial Southerner.”

Entering the region as an underdog against Rick Santorum, Romney first deployed his Southern version during a Wednesday afternoon visit to Pascagoula, Miss., blending stump pitches on energy and the military with a shout-out to campaign aide Garrett Jackson, a 2009 Ole Miss grad, who he travels with “more than my wife.”

“He’s now turning me into an, I don’t know, an unofficial Southerner,” Romney said in front of several giant oil-drilling rig platforms sitting at the port. “I’m learning to say ‘y’all.’ I like grits. Things are, strange things, are happening to me.”

On cue, Romney kept the Southern shtick going Thursday morning at a town hall-style rally in Jackson, Miss. Standing next to Gov. Phil Bryant, a recent endorser who’s from one of the most conservative counties in the state, Romney opened with a local salute.

“The governor said I had to say it right: Mornin’ y’all. Good to be with you,” Romney bantered. “I got started right this morning with a biscuit and some cheesy grits. I’ll tell you! Delicious.”


In Birmingham, Ala., on Friday, Romney demonstrated his love for local tunes by scoring an endorsement and introduction from Alabama lead singer Randy Owen.

“I never am serious except today,” Owen told a crowd of several hundred packed into a Caterpillar wholesaler. A few minutes later, Romney implored Owen to sing “Sweet Home Alabama.” Owen obliged with the chorus, even though it’s a Lynyrd Skynyrd tune.

Romney campaign confidants say the Southern bit — mixed with substance on the economy and contrasting himself to President Barack Obama — will work to his advantage.

You know what? No. I hate it when politicos of any stripe who aren’t from the South and who would otherwise have no interest in our culture (there are exceptions to the rule, of course – like Ronald Reagan, who adored the South) come here and start trying to “adopt” our culture as if it’s something they would embrace if they weren’t running for political office. Most wouldn’t and don’t (see: Clinton, Hillary). It’s offensive and insulting, and assumes that most people in the South are going to fall for it just because you’ve eaten liver mush and a grits, kissed a baby’s face, toured a hard-hit manufacturing plant, shook the hand of a farmer and complimented his lovely wife. Just come down here, tell us what you’d like to do if elected President, be friendly, and stop pandering.

And then leave!*

*Sorry, my Southern hospitality has its limits!

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13 Responses to “Pandermonium hits the South as Romney tries Southern “makeover””


  1. dj says:

    We have bumper stickers here in Montana. “Welcome to Montana. Now go home.” I feel that way every time a politician visits. Which ain’t often, thank goodness.

  2. Carlos says:

    First year I went to school it was in South Carolina. I had never been east of Idaho at that time, nor south of Redding, CA. Quite an experience, to say the least. And no one could understand me when I went home for Christmas, either.

    That said, I wouldn’t necessarily want to move there now. I missed my mountains while there (it took me a couple of months to figure out where “Lookout Mountain” was ’cause all I could see in that direction was a hill about the size of one I used to climb just to have something to do!), and the food, although for the most part good, wasn’t the same. The blatant racism then (back before civil rights and all) was also a thorn in my side, but the last few times I’ve been down in Dixie that’s pretty much disappeared.

    But as far as Mitt’s “pandering”? Cut him some slack, ST. He’s having fun at his own expense, he knows it, everyone else knows it, and he’s not trying to fool anyone with it. They know as well as he does that next Wednesday he’ll be the rich former CEO somewhere up north in Yankeeland, begging for votes.

    As opposed to your example of Ms. Clinton, who (I believe) was really trying to make everyone in that particular room that particular day believe that, deep down in her heart, she really was “one of them.” And Dear Leader has been guilty on many occasions of the same behavior.

    Lord knows I’m not a Mitt fan and I’ll hold my nose if I have to vote for him, but on this one I think you’re hitting a ghost that’s not there.

  3. Sefton says:

    This is what irritates me about Romney. He’s looking like the Republican version of Obama, running the exact same campaign he did. Go to ‘X’ place and tell ‘X’ crowd what they want to hear, try to “be them”, go on to the next stop – repeat. Sure, it’s typical politics, but I’m sick of typical politics. If there’s one upside to Ron Paul, at least he’s genuine. He stays on message whether you like it or not. I don’t agree with him on some things, but he’s not afraid to tell you where he stands.
    I’m voting for whoever gets the GOP nomination (I still wish it could’ve been Palin), but I have this recurring feeling that we’re just going to exchange one empty suit for another one and it’ll be at the continued detriment of the country.

  4. Phineas says:

    “Liver mush??” :-&

  5. Tom TB says:

    ST, this CT Yankee lived in NC for 5 years. What we need is some good ole’ boys and gals to take Mitt shooting, so we can REALLY see where he stands on the 2nd Amendment!

  6. Great White Rat says:

    A joke making the internet rounds:

    A liberal, a moderate, and a conservative walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Hi, Mitt.”

    That about says it all.

  7. pluffmud says:

    Romney is a contrived, pretty-faced cliche.
    Gingrich is a truthful, tenacious bulldog.
    Progressives fear the bulldog.
    Conservatives should reward him.

  8. Drew the Infidel says:

    This performance looked as ridiculous as BO “talking black” in front of a black audience as he recently did in California.

  9. Opus says:

    What bugs me the most about this latest instance of pandering from Romney is that it is “Okay” because it is about southerners. For instance, let’s see the firestorm that would erupt if he went to East L.A. and said “Hola Amigos” and talked about how much he likes burritos. It feels like he gets a pass because we southerners can’t recognize false sincerity when we see it.

  10. Ken66 says:

    You start trying to talk like us, y’all er gonna make more enemies than friends.

  11. Kate in MI says:

    I would be more impressed if he actually knew where to find grits and eggs in the grocery store and how much they cost… 8-|

  12. Carlos says:

    Don’t be ridiculous, Kate. Why would he have one of his “people” up on the stage to give everyone else that information? That’s what he’s got them hired for, is to take care of little details like grocery shopping while he takes care of the important stuff, like running for prez for the last five years…

  13. Drew the Infidel says:

    Any candidate campaigning in the South who cannot intelligently discuss football is lost from the get-go.