LAST century, General Motors assembly plants were a regular stop on the itineraries of presidential candidates. This election cycle, Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., has become a favorite destination.

Hillary Rodham Clinton made the pilgrimage in February. Then came John McCain, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, Ron Paul, Mike Gravel and most recently, Barack Obama.

In terms of theatrical symbolism, the trip to Google is similar to the G.M. plant visit. In both cases, the visits gave the candidate the chance for a photo opportunity at the most technologically advanced edge of the economy, "signaling identification with the future," said Kathleen

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