WASHINGTON INSIGHT

From The Times Washington Bureau and political staff

DOLE-POWELL: Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas still hopes to persuade retired Gen. Colin L. Powell to take the vice presidential spot on the ticket, and Dole's camp appears to be floating the idea of a deal that would give Powell authority over foreign and defense policy. Foreign Report, a newsletter published by the London-based Jane's Information Group, reports in today's edition that Dole has proposed an arrangement under which the secretaries of state and defense would report to V.P. Powell. The general, who says he has ruled out a vice presidency, says he has had no such discussion. "There is absolutely no substance to this report," his spokesman said.

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CHALLENGER CONNECTION: GOP presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan unveiled a campaign ad in New Hampshire that has caused consternation among friends of the late Sharon Christa McAuliffe, the Concord, N.H., teacher killed 10 years ago this month in the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. Intended to emphasize Buchanan's relationships to Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, the ad shows Buchanan and Reagan watching the disaster on TV. Mike Biundo, New Hampshire spokesman for Buchanan, said his office has heard only "positive reaction." Others disagree. Although the ad refers to the event as a tragedy, one McAuliffe family friend, who is not a Buchanan supporter, said use of the image to gain votes is offensive. James Courtovich, New Hampshire campaign manager for Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) said: "It was such a tragic scene for us here in New Hampshire. I can't see why you would put that in a political campaign."

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TOP TREASURY COP: New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is likely to become the chief law enforcement officer at the Treasury Department, overseeing the Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Customs Service. Kelly, who oversaw multinational observers and training of a new police force in Haiti, was chosen over former Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) for the post, Clinton administration sources said. Kelly is to succeed Ronald K. Noble, who is returning to teaching law after handling such sizzlers as gun control, White House security and the Branch Davidian investigation.

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TO CLARIFY: Confused by Whitewater? You are not alone. What follows is a summary as outlined recently by Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate panel investigating whether the Clintons benefited improperly from their investment with James B. McDougal, owner of Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan of Little Rock, Ark., in the Whitewater land development: "It goes really down to the issue of the relationship between the partners--the McDougals and the Clintons--the question of whether or not monies actually did flow from the failed institution into Whitewater, the question not of whether--what Mrs. Clinton did do as it relates to bringing in business into this institution that turned out to be a criminal enterprise--that's Madison; and the question of the work which Mrs. Clinton did or did not do as it relates to matters dealing with Madison. And there seems to be some . . . serious contradictions. Mrs. Clinton has given a sworn statement as it relates to the matters that she handled, and it would appear that there may be some question as to whether or not that was the case. The summaries of the billings indicate that she did--she was a leading billing partner, and that's at variance with what has been indicated. . . . And then there's the question of whether or not files were destroyed deliberately and withheld, files that may have been in Mr. (Vincent) Foster's office, as well as documentation with the Rose Law Firm, whether or not documentation was deliberately destroyed."

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