Former Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld, the Republican who launched a 16-year period of GOP rule on Beacon Hill, favored an expression apparently shared by Mitt Romney, the former governor who concluded their party's era of State House control.
"Revenge is a dish best served cold," Weld would say, quoting a phrase used in everything from the French novel "Mathilde" to "The Godfather" and "Star Trek II."
In announcing his presidential exploratory committee in a deliberately understated way, Romney declared his intentions on his terms and in his own tone with a variety of messages for an array of audiences.
* To President Obama, Romney asserted that the battle is joined.
A week after the Democratic incumbent stole the Monday news cycle with his pre-dawn announcement of a presidential exploratory committee, Romney did the same yesterday.
Obama did his with a YouTube video that featured "average" citizen testimonials; Romney did him one better with a direct-to-camera YouTube video in which he personally told the audience why he was weighing a run.
And, like Obama, Romney acknowledged a political vulnerability in his exploratory announcement.
"Ed" from North Carolina said of the president, who two years after being elected in jubilation is now confronted by more widespread skepticism, "I don't agree with Obama on everything. But I respect him, and I trust him."
Romney, by contrast, went back to a criticism Democrats have used against him in his 1994 US Senate race, his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, and his 2008 presidential candidacy. They have regularly charged that the millions he made at Bain Capital came at the expense of low-paid workers, laid off after his venture capital firm took control of their companies.
"Sometimes I was successful and helped create jobs, other times I was not," Romney confessed. "I learned how America competes with companies in other countries, why jobs leave, and how jobs are created here at home."
* To the Democratic Party, Romney set his terms of engagement.
On a day when Democrats tried to undermine Romney's political base, by underscoring how the universal health care law he signed while governor of Massachusetts served as the model for the federal law enacted by Obama, Romney aimed to undercut the rival party by focusing on the president's own weakness: the pace of economic recovery.
Democrats and their political supporters are in the middle of three days of activity highlighting today's fifth anniversary of the Massachusetts law, believing it will whittle away at Romney's primary standing with conservative Republicans repulsed by its successor, "Obamacare."
As the left-handed compliments began yesterday, Romney snuck off to the University of New Hampshire, met with a group of students concerned about the jobs that may not await them when they graduate, and taped the surprise video announcing his exploratory committee against the backdrop of the school's football field.
In a calm and collected way, with no defensiveness he may have portrayed on health care, Romney zeroed in on the economy by recalling how he walked two weeks ago through the Nevada zip code with the highest foreclosure rate in the country.
He noted lingering high unemployment rates and asked how it was happening in a country known for innovation and productivity, even if he ignored that a fellow Republican sat in the White House for eight years before a Democrat took over little more than two years ago.
"The answer is that President Obama's policies have failed," Romney said. "He and virtually all the people around him have never worked in the real economy. They just don't know how jobs are created in the private sector."
He then pivoted from them to him.
"When I served as governor of Massachusetts, I used the skills I had learned in 25 years in business to streamline state government, balance the budget every year, and restore a $2 billion rainy day fund," he said.
Two words absent from the speech: "health" and "care." Also left unsaid was the $1.3 billion budget deficit his successor, Democrat Deval Patrick, claimed he inherited as governor.
* To his primary rivals, and to the media, Romney rolled out his plan in a businesslike fashion reminiscent of the highly efficient and disciplined 2000 Bush campaign.
On March 21, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty became the first potential GOP presidential contender to announce an exploratory committee, a necessity if he hopes to build the name recognition and financial base he will need to move from first-time national candidate to serious White House challenger.
But Romney waited for Obama to make a move, husbanding his resources and coasting on the national name ID he built and bought with $47 million of his own money during his first presidential campaign.
With his eyes fixated on Obama, Romney launched his exploratory committee near the start of the second calendar quarter. That will allow both to start stockpiling cash and build out their campaign infrastructure during a period when Republican donors in particular will be taking the measure of potential candidates.
Obama's fundraising kickoff is Thursday night at Navy Pier in Chicago.
By July 1, "cash on hand" will become the first index of any campaign's relative health, and Romney has already lined up a team of donors from the Bush and McCain campaigns.
Now they can start voting with their wallets.
The nature of Romney's announcement also perpetuated his arm's-length treatment of the media.
Again, no longer anxious for any and all media coverage to raise his national name recognition, Romney has spent the past two-plus years picking his spots and his venues to make news.
Sometimes it's blogs. Other times it's interviews with favored TV and radio hosts. Still others it's newspaper op-ed columns. Yesterday, it was a YouTube video released very publicly by a candidate who had no public appearances scheduled until April 29.
The common denominator: No follow-up questions, no deviation from the campaign's chosen message.
And that message was aimed at supporters, opponents, and observers, all at the temperature Romney set.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.