Bob Cassiliano of the 7x24Exchange told me Wednesday that former Massachusetts Governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney would be the keynote speaker at the group's spring event (June 6-9). In past, 7x24Exchange has had some electrifying speakers, including Gene Kranz, Capt. Kirk Lippold, the Central Park Jogger, Chris Gardner, James Bradley, and Erik Weihenmayer. If you don't recognize the names, chances are you know their stories from best-selling books, newspaper reports, or feature movies (Apollo 13, Flags of Our Fathers, Pursuit of Happyness) about their lives. Most of these speakers presented inspiration messages focusing on achieving success through focus and determination. I personally believe these messages start 7x24Exchange events on a strong note. Last spring, for the first time I remember, 7x24Exchange departed from the script. Stuart Varney of Fox News, delivered a full-throated defense of capitalism, traced the origins of the financial crisis that had started the previous fall, and critiqued several official government policies. We should expect Mitt Romney, a viable presidential candidate in 2012 to be even more political. In fact, I'd expect Romney, as a potential candidate, to be testing themes and ideas for future campaign addresses. I also expect that Romney will talk more directly about energy price and reliability than any other speaker in the group's history. In fact, the speech may be overtly political, and large swaths of the audience may eventually vote against Romney at some time. Still, I think attracting potential presidential candidates is a good step for the 7x24Exchange and a sign of the growing influence of the data center industry.