Usually, political endorsements that follow conventional wisdom get little attention ("Gee! The NRA endorsed a Republican?!" -- "A Democrat just got the nod from the AFL-CIO?! OMG!).
It's the (somewhat) surprise factor (not to mention gravitas) that made people sit-up and pay attention to yesterday's Colin Powell news.
So, today's WSJ story on Google CEO Eric Schmidt "endorsing" Obama managed to raise my jet-lagged eyebrows. As the story notes, Schmidt has been involved with the campaign as an advisor on Internet and clean tech policy for a good while. He also has participated in at least one advisory meeting with the candidate regarding the economy. And, it is a relatively well known fact that the several on the Google team played a key role in consultations that led to Obama's tech policy plan that was not so coincidentally announced at Google last November.
Is it possible to advise a campaign without endorsing it?
(BTW, I do get how this is really about packaging tech and business leader endorsements).
Oh, and since Google is a place that is so proud of doing things unconventionally, perhaps I also shouldn't be surprised by the following related tidbits that were found in a few minutes of searching:
--As the WSJ briefly notes, Schmidt hasn't given any money to Obama. This means that, according to the campaign, 3.1 million people have given more money to support Obama than the CEO of Google who will be traveling with said candidate. A 58-year-old massage therapist in Anchorage has given $2000 more than Eric Schmidt. This is made stranger by the fact that Schmidt is no political babe in the woods. He got politically active when at Novell and battling Microsoft. And, he has been involved in plenty of Valley/DC money activities in prior cycles. In 2004, he gave money to Kerry, Lieberman, Dean and Gephardt. Perhaps he didn't find it money well spent. This cycle he has maxed-out contributions to Google's PAC (for mostly Congressional candidates) and the DNC ($25,000).
--Despite recently getting quite smart and engaged on FCC issues, Larry Page hasn't given any money to a candidate this cycle (at least he hasn't made any contributions that qualify for FEC recording). He has made requisite $5,000 contribution to the Google PAC.
--And, likewise, Sergey Brin has only made the Google PAC give. This surprises me only because I was at an election party in 2004 with Brin and happened to be the only person there with a computer. Predictably, Brin and others gathered around the light of the laptop and were much more interested in tracking the moment by moment mathematical swings in key Ohio counties than wait for some suit with a TelePrompTer tell them that the election was over. And, when it was over, I got a sense of genuine wistfulness from Brin that he didn't get involved in one way, shape or form.