What would a Romney presidency look like?

Presidential debate
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a debate with President Barack Obama at the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center at Lynn University on Oct. 22, 2012 in Boca Raton, Fla.
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Voters have heard a lot from Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on the campaign trail as to why they should vote for him. But what would a Romney presidency actually look like?

"I think what happens on the campaign trail is the guys lay out their vision for what they would do if they could wave a magic wand," said Jonathan Allen, senior Washington correspondent for Politico, on The Daily Circuit Wednesday. "I think voters understand they can't wave a magic wand and make it all happen, but I think a lot of voters are surprised to find out just how difficult it is to implement some of those things."

Jeremi Suri, professor for global leadership, history and public policy at the University of Texas - Austin, also joined the discussion. He said we will likely see a couple different versions of Romney in the Oval Office.

"I think we're likely to see someone who looks like Gov. Romney of Massachusetts on domestic issues, but I think we're also likely to see someone who sounds like more of a Republican hawk on foreign policy issues," he said. "That's the one place where the president has a lot more independence and decision making."

So what are some realistic expectations for a Romney White House?

We won't see sweeping legislation fly through Congress.

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"If Mitt Romney is president of the United States, he will come in with, we believe, likely a Republican House and possibly a Democratic Senate, maybe a Republican Senate," Allen said. "Either way, he's not going to have the margin you would need to jam things through the Senate because you only need 41 to filibuster and stop a lot of legislation."

The Mexico City Policy on abortion would be reinstated.

"He would reinstate the Mexico City Policy on abortion, which is basically preventing federal funding from going to non-government organizations in other countries that perform or promote abortion," Allen said. "Under President Obama, that was suspended. Romney would be expected, maybe even as early as the first 24 hours, to reinstate that policy."

Obamacare won't go away anytime soon.

"On the Republican side, people are going to be upset that it's not as easy as snapping your fingers to undo Obamacare," Allen said. "Ultimately, it's extremely difficult to do that legislatively. There are some things that can be done at the presidential level, perhaps waivers for states that don't want to participate in the exchanges, things like that."

Suri said the waivers would allow states to reject the federal money, similar to the stimulus money situation under Obama.

Less federal government? Unlikely.

A caller from Pittsburgh brought up the way Romney talks about state's rights.

"If you listen to what Mr. Romney says, he refers to 'these United States' quite often instead of 'the United States,'" he said. "This is a real movement in the tea party and in the conservative movement across America. We really want to decentralize the power. We want to take it away from Washington, D.C., move it back to the governors, back to the state and governor level... That's going to come with the budget cuts."

Suri said the historian in him doubts this will actually happen. He said it's a similar argument made by Presidents Nixon and Reagan.

"I think Nixon and Reagan believed it, but then if you look at what they did as president, they actually increased the power of the presidency," he said. "The trend line is for the president to assert more power, because it's progressively more difficult to get things through Congress and to get 50 governors to agree on things."

A more comprehensive immigration reform

"The Republican establishment believes that it's essential to have a policy that works for the business community, for the immigrant community, for every community," Allen said. "The problem is they've got a base that simply doesn't agree with the idea that they should be finding ways to make use of the immigrant populations that are here rather than sending them home. That's been a conflict in the Republican Party."

President George W. Bush pushed a comprehensive immigration reform bill and Romney will likely follow that path, Allen said.

"I think you will continue to see Republican presidents try to find a solution that is considerate of the immigrants who are already here who are unlikely to actually be sent back," he said. "However, that doesn't play on the campaign trail in Republican primaries and certainly is a difficult lift... I think you would see Mitt Romney more than likely move away from where he was in the primary and more toward where his rhetoric has been lately."

TOMORROW: What would a second-term Obama presidency look like?

MPR News' Madelyn Mahon contributed to this report.