(CNN) - When former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts began to seriously think about launching a campaign for the Senate in neighboring New Hampshire, "one of the first calls he made to talk about running was to Gov. Mitt Romney," a close adviser to Brown tells CNN.
Wednesday, the two men talked again, as the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee officially endorsed Brown, the frontrunner among the Republican candidates hoping to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire this November.
"New Hampshire knows Mitt Romney very very well, and not just because he won the presidential primary here. We know him as the upright and capable man who we wish were President right now. And as you remember in 2012 he came right here and fought the good fight. Well guess what, he’s here today to help us win in 2014, Brown told the crowd.
Romney's made a bunch of endorsements in Republican primary battles this year, but this one – which was first reported last week by CNN – hits closer to home in many ways.
"Gov. Romney and Scott Brown have been friends for years, going back to their days on Beacon Hill in Massachusetts," Ryan Williams, a New Hampshire GOP consultant who worked for Romney and now advises Brown, told CNN. "Obviously Scott is very proud to have Romney's support in New Hampshire, a place where Gov. Romney is very well liked and has a lot of friends and supporters."
Romney's very well known in New Hampshire. Besides serving for four years as governor of neighboring Massachusetts last decade, he owns a vacation home in the Granite State, and has often appeared at GOP events in across the state. Romney easily won the state's 2012 Republican presidential primary, but lost New Hampshire by six percentage points to President Barack Obama in the general election.
"Romney is popular in this state, particularly among Republicans. He's well thought of even though he's not a New Hampshire resident," Neil Levesque, the executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, told CNN.
Since his defeat in the 2012 presidential election, Romney has taken on the role of Republican Party elder statesman, in hopes of helping shape the future of the party. And while he has made endorsements in a number of GOP primary battles this cycle, he's only appeared on the campaign with candidates a couple of times. Most recently, he traveled to Iowa to campaign with state Sen. Joni Ernst, who a month ago went on to win the Hawkeye State's Republican Senate nomination.
Wednesday's event took place at Doug and Stella Scamman's Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, near the New Hampshire seacoast. That's the same spot where, just over three years ago, Romney formally announced his 2012 bid for the White House. Discussing the setting, Romney said it was "kind of like deja vu all over again."
"I'm proud to be here today to endorse someone I know well," said Romney, calling Brown "an independent voice, an independent thinker."
"I know that the President is not on the ballot this November but the people of New Hampshire have a chance to vote on what they think about the President’s agenda and they’ll do that by saying what they will about the President’s number one supporter Jeanne Shaheen," Romney added.
The endorsement came one day after news that Brown's campaign raised more than $2 million the past three months - his first full quarter as Senate candidate. Romney helped Brown top the $2 million mark by hosting a fundraiser in Chicago this past weekend for the Senate candidate.
"Scott Brown's strong fundraising quarter is another indication that he's going to be a formidable candidate this fall," a senior Brown aide told CNN.
Shaheen, who raised $1.5 million during the first three months of the year and had $4.4 million in the bank, has not yet revealed her second quarter fundraising figures. She got an assist on Monday from Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, as the progressive rock star hosted a fundraiser for Shaheen in Boston.
In advance of the Romney-Brown event, Democratic party officials were happy to tie the two men together.
"Really, when you get down to it Scott Brown and Mitt Romney are a couple of failed Massachusetts politicians who own summer homes in New Hampshire and now want to stand for Wall Street and big oil at the expense of the middle class in New Hampshire," Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Thomas McGee told reporters on a conference Tuesday.
"Now Scott Brown is bringing in his Massachusetts buddy Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney, to vouch for him. Well Scott, we've got news for you, Mitt Romney has no credibility in New Hampshire either," added New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley. "It's actually insulting that Scott Brown is shipping in another failed Massachusetts politician to tell Granite Staters what they need."
From Massachusetts to New Hampshire
Brown, then a little-known state senator, in Massachusetts, scored an upset victory in a special election in January 2010 to serve the final three years of the term of the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, who had died the previous summer. Brown lost his bid 2012 re-election bid for a full six-year term to Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.
During the 2012 campaign, as Brown tried to fend off the challenge from Warren in blue state Massachusetts, appeared to distance himself a bit from Romney, who Brown considered a political mentor during their days together in Bay State politics.
"In 2012, each candidate had to run their own race, and focus on two very different campaigns," Ryan told CNN. "Each candidate was focused on running the type of race they needed to run to win."
Last year, Brown passed on running in a special election in Massachusetts to fill the term of John Kerry, who left the Senate to become secretary of state. And at the time, Brown also announced that he wouldn't make a 2014 bid for an open governor's seat in the Bay State.
Brown made a number of speaking appearances at GOP events in New Hampshire last year. Last fall, in another hint about a possible run, he dropped the 'MA' from his Twitter handle. Since late year, when he began considering a Senate bid in New Hampshire, Brown began been highlighting his ties to the Granite State, to push back against Democrats' characterizations of him as a "carpetbagger" from Massachusetts.
At the end of the year, he sold his home in the Bay State and moved his residency north to New Hampshire, where he owed a vacation home and where he spent much of his childhood. In April he formally launched his Senate bid in New Hampshire
Brown joins two other Republicans who are running for their party's Senate nomination in New Hampshire: former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith and former state Sen. Jim Rubens. Conservative activist Karen Testerman dropped out of the race earlier this month and endorsed Smith. The winner of the September 9 primary will face off against Shaheen, who also served for six years as the state's governor.
Two polls released last month indicated Brown trailing Shaheen by 10 and 12 percentage points. One of the two surveys also suggested that Brown was the clear frontrunner for the GOP nomination.
If Brown ends up winning the GOP's September primary and runs a competitive race against Shaheen, it would expand the map for Republicans. Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states, like New Hampshire.
Will sharing the stage with Romney give Brown a boost?
"I think this is going to be a very big event that a lot of people are going to be talking about. If you can get a bump going into the Fourth of July holiday, it's to your benefit," Levesque told CNN.