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Treasury Secretary Google?

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Already a winner on the business front for his support and guidance to President Obama and his reelection campaign, there is growing speculation that Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is in line for an even bigger payoff: secretary of either Treasury or Commerce or a new "secretary of business" slot.

Cabinet shakeup watchers have focused on Schmidt and his Yoda status in the Obama reelection campaign, Google's massive $1.9 million to Democrats in the election, and the administration's efforts to quiet a potential Federal Trade Commission investigation of Google as key signs that the president wants Schmidt in the cabinet.

"Nobody's better positioned for a Cabinet job, if he wants one," said a Democratic strategist.

Since Obama ran for national office, Google has been there with money and advice. Way back in 2007, Obama visited Google HQ and said, "What we shared is a belief in changing the world from the bottom up, not from the top down."

Ever since, it's been a match made in heaven.

Schmidt stood with Obama during his first 2008 post-election press conference.

When Obama started to push for a new round of stimulus spending in 2011, Schmidt was a cheerleader. Google's political action committee delivered $1.6 million to Democrats in 2008 and over $700,000 to Obama in the last election.

At a recent Politico breakfast, Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina mentioned only Schmidt as his go-to guy. Schmidt was at Obama campaign headquarters on Election Day when Obama visited.

It's potentially good for Google too: As the FTC looks to probe Google, Obama nominated for a Republican vacancy a GOP professor with a record of fighting anti-trust enforcement and whose work was backed by groups supported by Google. On Monday, the nominee, Joshua Wright, said he would recuse himself from Google cases.

Now as speculation grows of Schmidt taking a cabinet post, critics are drawing attention to the closeness of the administration-Google relationship. "Support in 2008, plus support in 2012, plus personal counsel by Schmidt to Messina in 2012, may now equal a plum cabinet post," said one.