As Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has risen in the vice-presidential sweepstakes, a few political observers have joked that the athletic 42-year-old congressman, with his jet-black hair and square jaw, looks like one of Romney’s five sons. But according to Romney confidants, Ryan’s appeal to the former Massachusetts governor is more professional than filial.

“He is the kind of smart, young guy that Mitt likes and Mitt would have probably hired at Bain,” says Mike Murphy, a former Romney adviser. “He shares the intellectual talent and positive outlook of the guys who Mitt mentored for decades.”

Back when he was running Bain Capital, Romney was known for following a management method called the “Bain Way.” In their book, The Real Romney, Michael Kranish and Scott Helman describe it as “intensely analytical and data driven.” It required a “healthy ego,” the authors write, “to go into a business and tell an owner how to run his own firm better.”

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