Google CEO Eric Schmidt supports Barack Obama

San Francisco - Google CEO Eric Schmidt is to endorse Barack Obama and start campaigning for him, he told the Wall Street Journal Monday.

The endorsement by the man widely seen as the most powerful figure in the technology world came just a day after the Democratic presidential candidate was boosted by the endorsement of Colin Powell, a widely respected former Republican Secretary of State and retired four-star general.

The report said that Schmidt will campaign for Obama starting in Florida on Tuesday. He has also been providing unofficial advice to the Democratic hopeful on energy and technology issues, and could be in line for a Chief Technical Officer post Obama has said he would create in his administration.

Schmidt insisted that he was endorsing Obama as a private citizen and that Google retained its official neutral stance in the campaign. Both candidates were invited to address the company's employees earlier this year but Obama apparently made a better impression than his rival John McCain.

Google employees have donated a total of 487,355 dollars to Obama's campaign, compared to just 20,600 dollars to McCain's.

Google is currently under scrutiny by the Justice Department over its proposed alliance with Yahoo. But Schmidt said that his alliance with Obama was unlikely to have an effect on regulatory officials.

"My sense is, the Justice Department makes judgments on these issues independent of politics," Schmidt said. "It would be unfair to Justice to imply [that supporting Sen. Obama] would make a difference." dpa