Phil Johnson, the Democratic Party chairman in Massachusetts during Romney's only term, tells a tale of two governors.
"During the first two years of his administration, he was relatively moderate, even in some cases a progressive governor, who understood that that was the profile that fit Massachusetts," Johnston said. "But about halfway through the administration, he clearly made a decision to go national, and he made a very sharp break with his previous moderate self."
Romney worked with the Democratic Legislature, for example, to pass the state's landmark health care package about midway through his four-year term. He signed the bill into law to great fanfare in a public ceremony, but later returned to his office and vetoed several provisions.
"It was sort of a cheap political act," Johnston said. "He was not held in high esteem by Democrats in the Legislature."
As a presidential candidate, Romney often says he collaborated with Massachusetts Democrats to establish a $2 billion rainy day fund by the time he left the governor's office. Building the fund was a particular priority of Democratic leaders, however, even before Romney took office. While Romney had veto power, legislative Democrats ultimately controlled the budget process.
Despite holes in their records of bipartisanship, expect to hear more from Romney and Perry about compromise in the coming months.
"It is part of the culture and it'd be naÏve to think it would change overnight," said Tom Rath, a New Hampshire-based Romney adviser. "But the fact is, (Romney) is acknowledging it and saying, 'I've got to create an atmosphere in which results can occur.' That's something that is very appealing to voters."
Associated Press writer Chris Tomlinson in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.
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