Romney, like all Republican hacks, says the word "Reagan" almost as often as he says "the." Mitt uses "Reagan" likes it's a comma. In reality, Mr. Romney has much more in common with a certain Thomas E. Dewey of DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN fame.
Both had been presidential bridesmaids before. Dewey made an unsuccessful run for President in '44 (and in '40). Romney made an unsuccessful run in '08.
Both men ran on the heels of a Republican surge in Congress. Both surges were described by those doing the surging as "a mandate." In Dewey's day, the '46 elections were said to be a mandate on the New Deal. In Romney's time, the '10 elections were supposedly a mandate on programs like Obamacare (how uncomfortable for Mr. Romneycare).
Both faced a beleaguered incumbent. At one point in '48, Truman sported an approval rating of 36%.
Both were liberal (by Republican standards) governors of famously liberal states (Dewey New York, Mitt Massachusetts); making them suspicious to Republicans elsewhere in the country. Perhaps this is part of the reason their opponents focused their campaigns on the desperate need to "nominate a real conservative;" making the races a bit of an "anyone but Romney/Dewey affair." In 1948 Dewey's opponents even convened to construct a delegate strategy to stem "the Dewey blitz." They failed.
Both were accused of insufficiently differentiating themselves from the incumbent; basically offering a series of overly cautious "me-tooisms." This approach made it easier for Truman to seem like a tough talker, and will likely afford Obama the same opportunity. Don't be surprised if before long we're hearing, "Give 'em Hell, Barry!"
The big difference is that Dewey was very much expected to win. No one expects Mitt to steamroll Barack. So Romney can reference Reagan all he wants. The rest of us know how this movie ends. The headline this November will be OBAMA DEFEATS ROMNEY.