(CBS News) PASCAGOULA, Miss. - Gov. Phil Bryant endorsed Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential primary on Thursday and said he thinks Romney can win his state.
"People are gonna embrace him," Bryant said at a Romney rally. "If you saw the crowd here tonight, he speaks to them. He has a Reagan-esque type of ability to connect to the local person."
"This is the most conservative state in the nation. And we are saying, most of us elected officials that are Republican, that we want this man to be our president," Bryant said, noting that Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann also are backing Romney, along with former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott.
Tailoring his remarks to local concerns and the economy, Romney charged that the Obama jobs plan has failed and that the administration slowed the rate of offshore drilling while the cost of gas skyrocketed. "Since this president has been president, the cost of gas has doubled. Not exactly what he might have hoped for, and he says, 'Well it's not my fault.' By the way, we've gone from, 'Yes we can,' to 'It's not my fault.'"
Romney also joked in his remarks that his personal aide, Garrett Jackson, a Mississippi native, is turning him into an "unofficial Southerner."
"I am learning to say 'y'all' and 'I like grits,' and strange things are happening to me," said Romney, clad in blue jeans for the event.
Although Romney struggles with the perception he doesn't connect with average Americans, Bryant said he sees a different side of the candidate. "He just has a warm, comfortable way about him. I like to see a man when he's holding a baby. And he looks like he's held a baby before. Let me tell you, this man is connecting with the people of this nation, and it is about those simple things."
The governor said Romney's biggest handicap in Mississippi is that "people don't know him."