Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, accompanied by comedian Jeff Foxworthy, greets supporters during a campaign stop at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Monday, March 12, 2012 in Mobile, Ala.

MOBILE, Ala. (MCT) — First it was grits. Now it's catfish.

On the eve of the Mississippi and Alabama primaries, Mitt Romney showed how far he would go to bond with Southerners who might feel something less than a natural kinship with the famously stiff New England investment titan.

"That's a fine Alabama good mornin'," Romney said with a twang to a few dozen supporters who braved a drenching downpour to sing him "Happy Birthday" outside the Whistle Stop diner on the Gulf Coast.

The former Massachusetts governor, who turned 65 on Monday, could have left it at that.

But he didn't. Instead, he shared his delight over a recent meal in Mississippi.

"I had catfish for the second time," he told the crowd. "It was delicious, just like the first time."

For his closing event of the twin Deep South primaries, Romney also brought along comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who is known for his redneck jokes.

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"I never imagined I'd be up here like Larry the Cable Guy," said Romney, who it's safe to say is rarely mistaken for a TV repairman.

Campaigning last week in Mississippi, Romney said a local aide was turning him into an "unofficial Southerner." "I'm learning to say 'y'all,' and I like grits," he told supporters in Pascagoula.

In Alabama on Monday, he took the self-deprecating route. Turning to a local supporter in the Alabama rainstorm, he called the man a "terrific hunter." "I'm looking forward to going out and hunting with you sometime," Romney said. "And you can actually show me which end of the rifle to point."