The root pitch for both candidates is that they are the careful, competent, electable guys. Romney advertised how he saved the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and built up businesses such as Staples and Sports Authority. On Thursday in Salt Lake, the words “common sense” appeared three times in Bloomberg’s short speech.

There are differences. Bloomberg is far richer than Romney, which means he can run a national primary campaign rather than focus on the first states to vote. Bloomberg’s policy instincts, particularly on public health, guns and climate change, skew more left of center.

Yet Bloomberg nevertheless faces the same basic dilemma Romney did. Be yourself, and people can’t relate. But try to be what you think people want and come off as oleaginous.