Romney characteristically pursued the campaign like a problem to be solved. “The campaign was a good deal like a turnaround,” he would write. He listed rules: Know why you’re running. Get the right people. And carry out a strategic audit — “we analyzed the state and its problems.“
Romney won and would go on to sign the 2004 state ban on assault weapons. He helped push through a law requiring that nearly everyone in the state obtain healthcare coverage, a model for what would become the nation’s 2010 healthcare overhaul. Sen. Edward Kennedy, who trounced Romney in his 1994 Senate bid, was present for the state signing ceremony, where Romney called him a friend.
Romney lost the 2008 nomination to John McCain. This year, he made sure he wouldn’t be outflanked on the right.
If he returned to Romney Classic in the White House, he likely would embrace Washington’s power players in search of a deal.
At the first presidential debate, Romney insisted he would be able to work across the aisle in Washington — unlike President Barack Obama — the same way he said he did in left-leaning Massachusetts. “I like the fact that in my state, we had Republicans and Democrats come together and work together,” he said. Democratic lawmakers in Massachusetts, however, said Romney took an all-business approach and showed little interest in getting to know them, reserving an elevator in the state House of Representatives for the governor by blocking it with a red rope.
New presidents tend to have honeymoon periods where the other party bows to the mandate and gives the new leader some of what he wants. George W. Bush got his huge tax cut with Democratic support in 2001. Bill Clinton got the Family Medical Leave Act approved in 1993 with Republican support.
Obama has had a rougher time; his signature proposals, the economic stimulus and healthcare, passed with virtually no Republican support.
History suggests Romney would at least try to follow the early Bush and Clinton models. Recent history suggests he’ll have a difficult time. But his people skills, and his ability to analyze, at least say he’d have a plan for getting things done.
White House correspondent Anita Kumar contributed to this report.