Representative Jason Chaffetz, another key adviser to Romney with Utah ties, said the candidate "has great trust and confidence in Mike Leavitt. They've got a personal friendship and a relationship that dates back before the Olympics."
The Republican congressman said Leavitt is "the ideal person" to lead the transition planning effort, citing his three terms as Utah governor as well as serving as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.
"Mike Leavitt checks every box. It's a combination of experience and personal relationship," Chaffetz said. "He can help outline the parameters of what a transition would look like."
But Chaffetz downplayed talk of Leavitt as a potential chief of staff for a President Romney.
"There will be all kinds of swirling rumors. I don't think anybody's discussed that yet. It's much too presumptuous, and much too early," Chaffetz said. "I've never heard anybody say anything about that."
Leavitt has been at Romney's side through his tough presidential primary fight, acting at times as a surrogate as well the candidate's "first friend," according to Politico, which first reported Leavitt's new role with the campaign.
The online political news publication reported Sunday that Leavitt will head "Project Ready," the Romney campaign's effort to be prepared to step into the presidency next January.
Such planning is typical of presumptive party nominees. Leavitt confirmed his position with the transition planning team to Politico, but demurred about what his role would be in a Romney administration.
"I entered into this with the presumption that I'll continue in my private life," Leavitt told Politico. "I've done this because anytime you're involved in a campaign there is patriotism involved and in my case there's also friendship involved. And last it's really interesting."
It was Leavitt who was responsible for bringing Romney, a fellow Mormon working as a successful venture capitalist in Boston, to Utah to take over the scandal-ridden 2002 Winter Olympics.