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Originally published October 11, 2012 at 4:42 PM | Page modified October 11, 2012 at 5:04 PM

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Mitt Romney, super salesman

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, super salesman, has a familiar look and sound to millions of Americans.

Times editorial columnist

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Mitt Romney finally revealed himself, and millions of Americans instantly recognized him. He was the guy sitting across the desk closing the sale on the home they eventually lost.

The Republican candidate who had been a stranger since the GOP convention made his presence known in the first presidential debate and subsequent glib appearances.

Romney the salesman is the closer who pushed Americans into houses they could not afford. With Romney, the details are never explained. That is the golden rule of sales. Grim consequences are buried in the extra fine print, but never spoken aloud.

Remember the monologue? Buying this house is a smart, smart investment. The kids will be proud. Congratulations, you are living the American dream. Housing only increases in value.

No mention of the real interest rate, balloon payments, late fees, penalties and closing costs, but hints about equity loans.

Romney is not afraid to fudge the facts. His blatant distortion of Medicare finances is amazing, though less amazing than why President Obama did not call him on it.

Romney’s capacity to play with the facts is only trumped by his history of rewriting his history. We all know his favorite footwear, flip-flops. One cannot predict what he will say week to week.

He was pro-abortion rights until that did not serve his needs. He took pride in the Massachusett’s health plan he passed with Democrats as governor, until it looked too much like its progeny, Obamacare. By the way, hate the individual mandate requirement to buy health insurance? Tell it to the conservative Heritage Foundation, which has paternity.

The candidate who keeps his money in the Cayman Islands is going to fix the economy for the rest of us.

He got caught whining in front of rich folks about the lazy, entitlement-sucking 47 percent of Americans. Contributions in hand, he later said he did not mean the nasty stuff.

Voters’ gut instinct that they cannot predict or rely on what Romney says he believes, or what he will do, is backed up by two profiles of his flip-floppery. The PBS Frontline program “The Choice” is an insightful look at the lives and careers of Romney and Obama. Last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine article “A Man of Many Minds,” by Robert Draper, reviews Romney’s one term as governor.

Romney says whatever it takes to close the sale with whatever audience he is addressing. After years of schmoozing potential investors he has it down to a lucrative art: the quips, the smarmy grin, the bluster.

If Romney wants to go to war with Iran, would he just say so? HIs environmental positions churn enough to produce their own seasick shade of green. Somebody must be working on an app to help track Romney’s positions on women’s health issues.

America is clueless about Romney’s tax policies and how he would balance the budget. He wants more military spending. For what, to do what?

Can one imagine Romney attempting to rein in Wall Street excesses? I am haunted by the factoid that high-frequency trading accounts for 65 percent of all U.S. stock trading. What does buying and holding a stock in that environment amount to? A minute? Spookier yet are dark pools, trading venues where the buyer and seller and the security price are not made public. Like Romney’s tax records.

Romney is the dark pool of politics. Voters cannot claim to know with any certainty what he believes or what he might do.

Lance Dickie's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His email address is

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