Mitt Romney: The Hillary Clinton of 2012?

But the similarities, particularly to veterans of Hillaryland circa 2008, are remarkable.

*Like Clinton’s stance on the Iraq War authorization, Romney premised his campaign on an early and crucial decision not to apologize for what some partisans see as a fatal flaw: the health care mandate.

*Like Clinton, Romney has found it almost impossible to play halfway in Iowa, which has emerged as an inevitable test for the front-runner.

*Like Clinton, Romney has abruptly dropped any pretense to be above the fray, punching hard at Gingrich after the former House speaker raced by him in the polls.

*And most striking of all, Romney’s campaign, like Clinton’s – driven by raw political necessity – has smashed personal red lines the candidate spent decades erecting, racing to humanize a distant and sometimes awkward politician with tales from his time as a Mormon lay pastor.

Romney has followed the Clinton playbook so closely, her former aides say, you’d think she won her party’s nomination.