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Gingrich shows off his Southern roots

Jay Hare / The Dothan Eagle via AP

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks during a campaign rally Saturday at the Wiregrass Museum of Art in Dothan, Ala.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich played up his Southern roots Saturday as he campaigned across Alabama.

“Unlike one of my competitors, I have had grits before,” Gingrich said, making a jab at Mitt Romney never trying grits until this week. “That may explain as much as anything why everybody in Alabama and Mississippi ought to vote for me.”

The former House speaker during breakfast continued telling the crowd at John Word's Restaurant Cafe in Mobile, “I figure if you don’t understand grits there’s a pretty high likelihood that you don’t understand the rest of the South either.”

Gingrich held five events across Alabama with just three days to go until voters head to the polls Tuesday. A Georgia native, he continues to argue that neither Romney nor Rick Santorum is the true “Southern candidate.”

A prominent fisherman from the South even threw his support behind Gingrich today.

Ray Scott, the founder of Bassmaster, gave his endorsement of the speaker at an event at the Wiregrass Museum of Art in Dothan. Gingrich, wearing a green BASS shirt rather than a suit for the first time in months, even tailored his gas-prices pitch.

“If you’re a fisherman and you take your boat anywhere and you try to fill up your boat and you try to fill up your truck to be able to take your boat somewhere, you have a real interest in the price of gasoline,” Gingrich said.

He even made a common joke down in the South: The crowd was so impressive in Dothan, “there must be nobody left at Walmart this afternoon.”

Over the past week, the speaker has risen in both Alabama and Mississippi polls as the race between the three candidates in those states has narrowed. But Gingrich isn’t taking any chances.

“We have momentum but we haven't won. We still have to go out and finish the sale,” Gingrich said outside Mama Lou’s in Robertsdale. “We have to make sure, particularly in a county like this that has such a huge Republican vote, we need to make sure that everybody understands the opportunity.”

Gingrich jumps over to Mississippi on Sunday for two public events.