The PowerPoint as Running Mate

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JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRMitt Romney, the former Bay State guv now running third in the gop presidential sweepstakes, doesn't use a BlackBerry or even carry a cellphone. But that's not to say he's not a techie geek. In fact, he's proving to be just the kind of wonk that would make Microsoft's Bill Gates giddy at an issues lunch. Here's the deal: Romney is the first-ever presidential candidate to haul out a PowerPoint presentation at campaign events. He did it recently while addressing the Detroit Economic Club, and the audience went nuts for it. "It was amazing," an auto exec tells us. "I mean he didn't just make claims. He had the graphs to back him up!"

The idea was the candidate's and was a textbook presentation outlined in classic fashion: It opened with the "Intro," wrapped up under the title "Close," and finished with an "End" on Page 21. In between were graphs that Romney tried to soften with descriptions of lines like "squiggle." PowerPoints, says spokesman Kevin Madden, "speak to the competency that [Romney] exudes and the authoritative nature of his understanding of the issues." Plus, he says, the boss just digs them--and is a great presenter. "He's the PowerPoint president. Very few people could pull this off and not look wonkish." And the Mitt-tech doesn't end there: He's started Mitt tv and raises cash on ComMitt, a computer fundraising program.