Google flexes political muscle in presidential campaign 2008

Digital Markets Blog presidential campaign 2008 special series on what I am calling “User Generated Politics”Google is determined to control all the world’s information, and to make sure “the presidential campaign trail winds though the Googleplex.

Digital Markets Blog presidential campaign 2008 special series on what I am calling “User Generated Politics”

Google is determined to control all the world’s information, and to make sure “the presidential campaign trail winds though the Googleplex.” 

Not only is the Google top brass, led by Googler in Chief Eric Schmidt, enjoying the fruits of intimate sit-downs with all who hope to become the next president of the United States, the not so humble, but very merry, band of Googlers are having their say, and their way, with the candidates, as they dutifully “wind through the Googleplex.”

Schmidt is fond of calling the meet and greets part of the ultimate job interview for the top job in the U.S. and, as Bill Richardson can attest to, an interview at the Googleplex is no walk in the park, even with a Mountain View!  

CEO Schmidt welcomed Hillary Clinton in February to his “house” with the requisite courtesy; The frontrunner candidate reciprocated with a rousing endorsement of Google Vice President Adam Bosworth’s ambitions for Google branded Personal Health Records.

(see Google CEO gets Clinton support for Google Health initiative and Google scary now? Personal Health Records, sponsored by Google, next)

John McCain earlier this month and Richardson yesterday did not escape the Googleplex unscathed, however.

Googlers in attendance were visceral in their interrogations of McCain and Richardson and Elliot Schrage, VP, Global Communications and Public Affairs, was a more direct host, in for Schmidt to represent the $150 billion market cap corporation before presidential candidate Richardson.

McCain of course can tell a story or two about what is to be under interrogative fire and following his Goolgeplex experience he can add a few more tales to his repertoire, as I report in McCain makes pilgrimage to Googleplex:

Many Googler’s put forth what they believed would be best for McCain to do if he became President. McCain apparently got the message.

In response to a Googler question about immigration laws, McCain got his biggest round of applause of his "job interview" at Google:

"If Google is going to be able to maintain its supremacy in the world, it is going to have to continue to get the best and the brightest from all over the world, and I accept with your gigantic egos, that you are the best…we need an H1B visa program that works."

Richardson was, by all reports, double teamed: Host Schrage and Googlers let Richardson know how they REALLY feel. 

Schrage is not a disinterested party, in more ways than one. He is the point man for the Google effort to grab the biggest chunk it can of the $80 million that is projected to be spent online during campaign 2008, as I report and analyze in Google, YouTube target $80 million political ad spend.

Press coverage is cheerfully putting Richardson on the "losing" side of his turn at the Googleplex, portraying the candidate as bumbling, while the Googlers are presented as apparently in the seeming know. 

“Richardson Faces Some Suspicion at Google,” The New York Sun

Mr. Richardson praised Google for its innovation but seemed unaware of aspects of its reputation as a cutting-edge employer. He said he favored giving companies tax credits for using solar power and for encouraging employees to stay fit. "We're already there," Mr. Schrage said. "Our nutritionist may end up running for president." 

One Google staffer took Mr. Richardson to task, suggesting that he was smearing other Democrats and adopting a "right-wing frame."

“Talk at Google Bumpy for Richardson,” San Jose Mercury News

Richardson didn't know his audience very well. After he promised to give companies such as Google tax incentives to install solar panels, the audience roared - in laughter. Google already does that, without any tax incentive, one employee noted.

In one awkward moment, Richardson told the audience "I'm Hispanic; the Richardson name doesn't help." He looked around the audience, and said, "You have no Hispanics here." Elliot Schrage, vice president for global communication who was interviewing Richardson, replied, "Of course we do."


More in this Digital Markets Special Series:

Reagan, Schwarzenegger win big in Republican debate campaign 2008
Hillary Clinton snags $4.2 million online
Obama and Clinton tussle over women
Hillary Clinton, Democrats lead Republicans in Web race to the White House
Google wins big as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama battle