A Cry In The Valley

Big-name Silicon Valley executives are turning their backs on George Bush. But not GOP stalwart David Packard, co-founder and chairman of Hewlett-Packard Co., Defense Under Secretary for Richard Nixon, and one of the original high-tech entrepreneurs.

Disappointed to see lifelong Republican CEOs -- including protege John A. Young, HP's chief -- throw their support to Bill Clinton, the 80-year-old Packard fired off an angry letter to the San Jose Mercury News that ran Sept. 17. It appeared two days after a rally at which a passel of top valley executives, including Young and Apple Computer Inc. CEO John Sculley, backed Clinton.

OLD SCORE. Packard's letter accuses the high-tech execs of being "caught in the updraft of Bill Clinton's hot-air balloon." It labels the Democratic Party the "party of socialism" and accuses Franklin D. Roosevelt of favoring "socialism rather than freedom" at Yalta in 1945. And it hails the gulf war as "the greatest military victory in the history of the world." An HP spokeswoman says Young did not confer with Packard before making his endorsement.

Clinton's Silicon Valley supporters say they were disturbed by the far-right tone of the Republican convention. They also believe Clinton and running mate Al Gore have a better grasp of high-tech issues than the Republicans.

Packard may be outnumbered, but he's not alone. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. CEO Jerry Sanders is backing Bush, with some reservations. And maverick T. J. Rodgers, chief of Cypress Semiconductor Corp., says he won't so much vote for Bush as against "tax and spend" Clinton. Says Rodgers: "It's difficult to endorse the last four years. If I had a Ronnie button, I'd wear it." Maybe Packard has a spare lying around.

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