The victory only sharpened the parallels with his father's life: successful businessman, dedicated family man and, now, governor.
Romney brought a CEO's focus to state government, as well as a relentless focus on control. His staff put up velvet ropes wherever he went, separating him from reporters and the public. He also displayed a sense of humor, such as the time he got even with a State Police trooper on his protective detail who had shortsheeted Romney's bed in a Florida hotel.
Romney grabbed a piece of hotel stationery, typed a note to himself from a fake hotel manager and said the room's maid had been fired for the linen mishap. Then the governor made sure the note leaked to the trooper.
When the nervous trooper approached him to confess, Romney chortled, "April Fool's."
Daniel Winslow, who served as the governor's legal counsel, said Romney has a "corny sense of humor" and is a big fan of The Three Stooges.
When a story broke about Romney and his sons using Jet Skis to pull a family out of Lake Winnipesaukee Romney saved the family dog the staff put a stuffed Scottie on his chair dressed in swim trunks and a life preserver.
"He got a good laugh out of that," Winslow said.
Thomas Finneran, who served as speaker of the Massachusetts House during the first years of Romney's term, said Romney always impressed him as "a bright guy."
But, Finneran said, "One of the lingering memories I will have is the sense of missed opportunities." The former speaker, a Democrat, said Romney chose battles with lawmakers for political gain over real accomplishments.
"We could have and should have accomplished more than we did in those first couple of years," Finneran said. "After those initial years, it was clear his mind was on something else."
His final year in office, Romney spent more than 220 days outside Massachusetts, laying the groundwork for his presidential campaign.
His gubernatorial tenure coincided with some of the most socially divisive debates in the country. In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that gay couples couldn't be denied marriage licenses.
Romney fought the decision, but he failed to reverse it.
By the end of 2005, Romney approached a self-imposed deadline for deciding whether to seek re-election. His father had served three terms, but Romney decided to leave after just one.
"My decision comes down to this," he said. "In this four-year term, we can accomplish what I set out to do. In fact, we've already accomplished a great deal."
Romney spent the bulk of the next year on the road, except for brief appearances back home, including his signing of the state's landmark health care law.
The other exception was in July 2006, when ceiling panels in a tunnel in Boston's just-completed Big Dig highway project collapsed, crushing a car and killing a Boston woman.
Romney seized control of the board overseeing the project and held daily news conferences, coolly explaining what went wrong drawing diagrams with black markers on sheets of white paper.
By the time of his final, symbolic "lone walk" down the front steps of the Massachusetts Statehouse last January with his wife, Romney had matched his father's life arc, stride for stride, all the way to the starting line for a presidential campaign.
In February, Romney formally declared his candidacy for the presidency at the Henry Ford Museum in his native Michigan, an American Motors Rambler over his shoulder, a reminder of George Romney's entry into politics.
"The fact that he took that path, of course, has made that something I would consider," Mitt Romney said of his beloved father, who died in 1995. "Otherwise it probably wouldn't have entered my thinking."
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