Group of tech execs rallies 'round Bush

A star-studded list of tech executives plan to endorse President Bush for another term, saying they believe that his positions are a better choice for the high-technology industry.

A star-studded list of technology executives on Wednesday plan to endorse President Bush for another term, saying they believe that the Republican candidate's positions are a better choice for the high-technology industry.

The endorsement at a Seattle event by the group of executives, including Dell Chairman Michael Dell, Teledesic Chairman Craig McCaw and former Microsoft Executive Vice President Bob Herbold, represents the latest round of jockeying between Republicans and Democrats over which presidential candidate can claim the most tech-friendly stance.

The event coincides with the release of a short Web video clip titled "Innovators" that features tech leaders touting Bush. The video clip also includes eBay CEO Meg Whitman, Barksdale Management CEO and Autodesk Chairman Carol Bartz.

"After several tough years, tech is bouncing back," Bartz says in the video. "This is due in no small measure to this administration's pro-growth policies." Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers adds that Bush "understands the key high-tech issues," such as how best to deploy broadband connections.

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In general, Silicon Valley executives appear to prefer Democrats on social issues and Republicans on business ones. Internet and computer companies that operate their own political action committees (PACs) have given an average of 60 percent of their money to Republicans over the last four elections--and only 40 percent to Democrats. The Republican-leaning PACs include ones run by eBay, EDS, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit, Texas Instruments, VeriSign and Yahoo. Telecommunications and electronics PACs tend to be even more aggressively Republican.

Like Bush, Democratic candidate John Kerry has made outreach attempts in Silicon Valley, which have included landing Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs as an informal adviser.

But Kerry's views run the risk of alienating some technology executives. He has told the AFL-CIO that he is critical of "excessive" executive compensation and added that "I also support expensing stock options." Bush, on the other hand, has in the past said he supports the current mechanism of not expensing them.

Kerry has also inveighed against "Benedict Arnold CEOs," who move jobs to foreign countries--a stance that has riled some Silicon Valley executives who operate overseas research labs.

The Bush campaign has been more guarded about its views on offshoring, although a top presidential adviser made headlines in February after suggesting that offshoring is just the latest example of free trade, which is good for America.

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