Eric Schmidt Closing In On Top Commerce Job?

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Even before he’s out at Google, Eric Schmidt is reportedly on the short list to be President Barack Obama’s next Commerce Secretary. Buzz has been building for the past week that the soon-to-be former CEO of Google is being seriously considered for Commerce Secretary nomination once he leaves the company in April. Schmidt announced he was splitting with the company in January after a decade. Google co-founder Larry Page will step in as CEO this spring.

Schmidt recently secured a nod from former Reagan Administration Commerce Department counsel Clyde Prestowitz. Prestowitz, whose endorsement could signal bipartisan support, said in a Foreign Policy piece that he would “wholeheartedly urge President Obama to move ahead with this appointment.”

Schmidt is known not only for his business acumen but also for his colorful and controversial comments, particularly when it comes to explaining Google’s privacy policies.

The rumors about Schmidt’s possible nomination are apparently substantial enough to make Schmidt’s critics nervous as well.

Consumer Watchdog, well-known for its opposition of Google — and Schmidt in particular — issued a release Thursday in opposition to a possible appointment. The group also sent a letter to Obama asking him not to nominate Schmidt for the position. “Putting Eric Schmidt in charge of policing online privacy is like appointing Bernie Madoff to direct the Securities Exchange Commission,” the release said.

Others who have been mentioned as possibilities for the nomination include U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler and FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

Current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is Obama’s nominee to be the next ambassador to China.

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