Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with the president, set the nation on the perilous legislative course when they passed the Budget Control Act, which mandates both tax increases and massive spending cuts that take effect at the end of the year, unless a compromise is reached.
If a solution is not found, Romney could enter the White House with a country that is reeling from what many economists agree would be a massive jolt to the economy.
Facing resistance from tea party on more revenue
Back in Massachusetts, the then-governor solved his own fiscal crisis with a mixture of spending cuts and fee increases.
But to conservative Republicans in Washington, revenue enhancers are viewed as deal-breakers.
"The tea party is not going to let him do that. The tea party is going to resist that mightily," Widmer said.
But Romney made clear in the presidential debates he is comfortable shifting back to the center when it is politically advantageous. What Democrats label "etch-a-sketching" and "Romnesia," one Romney aide said the candidate is simply articulating his positions in a way that would make them more palatable to "swing voters."
After a sometimes painful, yet eventually successful wooing of tea party conservatives, Romney now openly embraces more centrist views on regulation.
"Sometimes people in our party say we want to deregulate but that's kind of an overstatement," Romney told the Jacksonville rally.
"We want to get rid of excessive regulation and outmoded regulation. But we have to have some regulation to make the economy work and for people to be able to play by the rules," he added.
After a lifetime in business and Massachusetts politics, a President Romney would arrive in Washington as a newcomer.
As Romney boasted during the GOP primaries, he would enter the nation's capital having never worked in the hyper-partisan world nestled on the Potomac River.
Massachusetts accents in the White House
But do not expect Romney to be lonely at the White House. As recent history has shown, governors who ascend to the presidency, such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, usually have a colorful entourage of statehouse advisers and friends who come along for the ride.
If Romney's management of this presidential campaign is any guide, he is likely to bring with him a slew of political professionals from his days in Boston. Several top advisers in Romney's inner circle, former Bain executive Bob White, Boston political strategist Peter Flaherty and communications guru Eric Fehrnstrom, speak with a thick Massachusetts accent.
Another pivotal player to watch is Beth Myers, who was Romney's chief of staff during his days as governor and led his vice presidential search that culminated in what is widely regarded as the politically successful selection of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Madden declined to discuss a potential senior team in a Romney White House but conceded the GOP contender has a history of taking care of his own.
"He is a loyal guy. But I think he wants the best and the brightest with him to help solve big problems," Madden said.