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High-Profile Pundits Get High-Profile Jobs


Among the hundreds of reporters and pundits planning to cover the Republican National Convention the old-fashioned way--for print--will be two former presidential candidates, only one of whom declared for the job.

Steve Forbes, the flat-tax proponent who gained ground early in the GOP primary season, will be in San Diego to address various delegations, join Bob Dole at the podium on Thursday night and write a daily column. Forbes will be working for the Copley Newspapers group, which includes the convention's hometown daily, the San Diego Union-Tribune, as well as other newspapers in California and the Midwest.

"It'll be more of an overview, interpretation and analysis of what it all means," the editor in chief and president of Forbes magazine explained. Using a laptop? "No, probably a notebook--and memory," he added with a laugh, "so I cannot be constrained by what people actually said."

The undeclared candidate is novelist Norman Mailer, who will carry pen and notebook on behalf of John F. Kennedy Jr.'s magazine, George. In a warmup to his coverage for the year-old publication, Mailer conducts a lively dialogue with Pat Buchanan in the August issue of Esquire in which the writer reveals that he had soured on Bill Clinton's presidency early on and seriously considered challenging the incumbent in the New Hampshire primary. But his wife threatened to leave him and, at 73 years old, he balked at the physical stamina required for a campaign.

Enlisting Mailer, who has written from national political conventions a number of times, represents a coup for George. "Because we're a monthly magazine and we'll be publishing after the conventions, we had to have something with 'legs,' " said Michael J. Berman, the president of George. "Mailer will bring us to a whole new caliber of writing." His pieces are scheduled for the November and December issues.

In other convention highlights, two weekly publications are planning to go daily in San Diego and at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The National Journal will put out the National Journal Convention Daily, a 40-page tabloid, and the Weekly Standard, the Washington-based conservative magazine launched last year by Rupert Murdoch, will produce the Daily Standard.

Meanwhile, the Hill, the tabloid-size political weekly based in Washington, will publish a 150-page convention issue, its fattest since the paper was launched two years ago. Executive Editor David Grann said the Hill will supplement news about the convention with profiles of players, such as political curmudgeon P.J. O'Rourke, and "news you can use" about San Diego.

The San Diego Union-Tribune will feature a 16-page section each day targeting convention-goers. The Los Angeles Times has announced that its Washington edition, which typically carries a lot of political coverage, will be distributed in San Diego and Chicago during the conventions.

Back on the job for Newsweek will be Joe Klein, the political columnist who came under journalistic fire after it was revealed that he had lied to guard the secret that he was the anonymous author of the novel "Primary Colors."

Not to be outdone by the big political guns, Family Circle heralds the nominating season with a bake-off between Hillary Rodham Clinton's chocolate chip cookies and Elizabeth Dole's pecan roll cookies. Recipes appear in the Sept. 1 issue and readers may vote for their favorite treat by mailing postcards to the magazine.

Four years ago, the soon-to-be first lady's cookies topped Barbara Bush's chocolate chips, taking 55% of the votes cast--a better showing than Bill Clinton had at the polls.

* Paul D. Colford is a columnist for Newsday. His column is published Thursdays.

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