The Pleomorphic Candidate

The first presidential debate showed us the real Romney which is not to say it’s the same Romney we saw in the primary debates or the Romney we saw as governor of Massachusetts or the Romney we’ve seen campaigning for the last five years. The problem is they’re all the real Romney. The personality characteristics that compel Mr. Romney to frequently reinvent his message to the nation are the same characteristics that made him a success at Bain capital.

In a previous post, “If a Venture Capitalist Ran America”, I observed that a successful private equity manager is actually encumbered by a commitment to a core belief. A private equity manger must express passionate about an investment right up to the point it is dropped. The successful manager must then immediately transfer the façade of passion to a new investment.

It is not surprising that Romney has applied the same principles of pleomorphism to his campaign that proved successful at Bain. To be sure, I fully expect an individual’s position on issues to evolve over time as new information is received and evaluated. The key is that changes in one’s position must be driven by an internal core belief and not by simply adapting to constantly changing external factors.

As I watched the debate, I wondered how many viewers realized they were watching a polished sales presentation by Mr. Romney. One would only need to compare his current statements with those of a few months ago to see that there is no consistency. When pitching diverse projects to investors, consistency may be discretionary. But in the end, consistency matters when one is running a country much more than when one is looking to close a deal and move on to the next one.

I hope voters will begin asking, “Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?” And, I hope they will realize the answer to that question is “They already have.”

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