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No General At General Motors

Up Front -- Convention Report '96: HONCHOS


BOB DOLE ISN'T he only suitor who has been rejected lately by Colin Powell. Besides turning down the No.2 spot on the GOP ticket, the retired general recently declined an offer to join the General Motors board, say people close to the auto maker.

GM, which has only one African American on its 14-member board, courted Powell intensely. The principal recruiter was GM Vice-Chairman Harry Pearce, who serves on the Howard University board of trustees with Powell. GM Chairman Jack Smith also made a personal pitch to the gulf war hero, the insiders say. But the perks of a board seat at General Motors ($26,000 annual retainer, stock grants, other fees) were hardly enough to lure the general.

Powell doesn't exactly need the money: He earned a fortune from his best-selling autobiography and commands a speaking fee of $65,000. The general could not be reached, and GM declined comment. GOP consultant Kenneth Duberstein, a close Powell associate, would say only that Powell has received dozens of requests to join corporate boards and said no to all.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT WITH LISA SANDERS By Bill Vlasic

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