"The chief business of the American people," Calvin Coolidge famously said, "is business." But voters have never been sold on the idea of a businessman in the White House. In theory, yes, why not run the government like a business? But candidates from Henry Ford to Ross Perot to Herman Cain can testify that voters don't fully buy that argument.
Mitt Romney's case is a little different. He was a governor as well as a businessman, and he was a management consultant and venture capitalist--which is very different from the CEO types who have sought the Oval Office. You could argue that the analytical breadth of a consultant is better suited to the presidency than the narrower focus of the more traditional business leader. When I interviewed Romney this week, he suggested that he was familiar with all manner of businesses, from technology to manufacturing to retail.
But to really understand how Romney thinks, read Bart Gellman's insightful piece on Romney's years at Bain. Bart concludes that Romney was both an exceptional business leader and a deeply cautious one. "Presidents deal with nothing but risk and bad options, because the easy problems don't reach their desks," he says. "A smart investor like Romney looks for the surest bets, and he was more risk-averse than most. The intriguing question to me is how he would adapt."
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR
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