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Haig in charge?

ALEXANDER Haig has been intimate with the corridors of power, but he is largely unknown outside them. These factors define his credentials and prospects for president of the United States. Mr. Haig has been a Washington fixture since Mr. Nixon's first term. A West Point graduate, he rose swiftly in the fast military-political liaison track to White House chief of staff in the closing days of the Watergate scandal. He authorized wiretaps and recommended firing special prosecutor Archibald Cox, but he also engineered the Nixon resignation that stopped the nation's leadership drift. Then came five years as NATO forces commander. And two years as Ronald Reagan's first secretary of state. In policy, Haig has been a moderate, though his service is linked with periods of tumult.

The GOP race would have to take unexpected turns before Haig wins his stars as a serious presidential contender. He is no Dwight Eisenhower - war hero to a people anxious for peace. He will have to win his constituency in Iowa and New Hampshire in kaffee-klatsch to kaffee-klatsch combat. But at the least Haig will enliven GOP contender debates, and test whether individuals loaned presidential powers in crisis should be granted such powers outright.

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