MOBILE, Ala. - Mitt Romney huddled underneath an awning while Alabama Republicans wore ponchos and carried umbrellas to escape a downpour as Romney sought their votes.
"This could be an election that comes down to a very small margin between the three people running here most aggressively, and if you will give me your support, that would not only give me more delegates. By the way, we're about two and half times ahead in the delegate race, so we're doing really well, but I need even more delegates. So if you guys are able to do that for me, we can well take this over, over the top at a very fast pace," said Romney outside the Whistle Stop here.
"We're going to get this thing won. Jeff Foxworthy's going to make all the difference in the world, and you guys by voting multiple times can make a big difference," joked Romney.
Romney, joined by Foxworthy , emerged from a restaurant where he privately spoke to voters prior to the rally as rain clouds opened up. The candidate called the crowd to gather around him underneath the awning, protected from the rain. Working as an advance man himself, Romney directed his staff to turn the speakers around and hopped on top of one to speak to the crowd.
Shortly after Romney assumed his perch, the crowd sang Happy Birthday to Romney, who turned 65 years old today.
"Well that's a fine Alabama good morning, thanks you guys," said Romney. "This is the greatest group ever had beneath an awning, I'll tell you that. This is really something. This is like a sardine can here. Look at us in here. We're all nice and wet you know like a can of sardines."
Known for being well-coiffed, Romney's hair remained in place despite the torrential downpour.
After a brief speech outside, Romney, who remained relatively dry compared to the crowd, entered the Whistle Stop restaurant to speak to voters who sought shelter from the storm brewing outside.
"Thanks so much for giving me this birthday present. Hopefully, I can unwrap it tomorrow," Romney said about the Alabama primary.
With Foxworthy standing to his right, Romney criticized President Obama by playing off the name of the game show hosted by Foxworthy, "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?"
"Any fifth graders? We are going to have a test here. If you spend more money than every year than you take in, is that good for the economy?" said Romney as the crowd shouted "No!"
"Even the fifth graders could figure that one out," he said.
"I'm afraid the president has failed the show, and I know he is smarter than a fifth grader. I sometimes ask why he does the things that he does, because they are not good for America if they are not creating jobs, not raising incomes, not getting us gasoline that we can afford," he said.
"I think it's time to send a President to Washington who can fix things in this country," said Romney.
Before he mingled with the crowd in the restaurant, Romney, who has sampled some Southern cuisine - from catfish to grits - and tested out a bit of Southern charm, admitted he's gotten his share of hugs from Southern women this week.
"I'm going to come around and say hi to everybody. Please give us a big hug - that's the girls," said Romney as the crowd laughed. "I've been getting hugs from the Southern girls today, and I mean from 12 to a lot more than 12."
As he made his way through the crowd, Romney granted the women in the crowds some hugs and even laid a few kisses on a few lucky women's cheeks.
"Well, I'd hug you, but I can't reach across the table," said Romney as he planted a kiss on the woman's cheek.