Obama gets backing of Google CEO Schmidt

Eric Schmidt plans to make a campaign appearance Tuesday with the Democratic nominee for president but says "Google is officially neutral," according to <i>The Wall Street Journal</i>.

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Eric Schmidt, CEO of Silicon Valley heavyweight Google, plans to campaign on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

On Tuesday, just two weeks before Election Day on November 4, Schmidt will join Sen. Obama at an event in Florida to moderate a panel on the economy, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Schmidt has unofficially been advising the Obama campaign on technology and energy matters.

Eric Schmidt addresses bloggers at the Democratic National Convention in August. Declan McCullagh/CNET Networks

Schmidt says the endorsement of a party nominee is his own, and not a statement on behalf of his company. "I'm doing this personally," he said in an interview with the Journal. "Google is officially neutral."

In August, Schmidt made an appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, though not on the main stage. Rather, he took questions from bloggers in the Big Tent workspace outside the convention center, where he said Obama got a big boost in his campaign efforts from the Internet.

Google has drawn the attention of antitrust regulators in Washington for a proposed advertising deal with fellow Internet giant Yahoo, though the Justice Department has yet to take or recommend any formal action.

Schmidt addressed that issue in his interview with the Journal. "My sense is, the Justice Department makes judgments on these issues independent of politics," he said.

On Sunday, Obama got a surprise endorsement from Colin Powell, who earlier served as secretary of state under President Bush.

Sen. John McCain, Obama's Republican rival, has the backing of Silicon Valley notables including Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, and Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

Google was not immediately available to comment on the Journal report.