WASHINGTON (AP) _ Powell mania shows no sign of abating.

Retired Gen. Colin Powell was the first choice for president among 41 percent of the corporate executives who participated in a straw poll Thursday at a conference sponsored by Business Week magazine.

The poll of 90 executives offered a choice between Republican candidates, President Clinton and potential candidates such as Powell, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J.

Trailing Powell was Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, who got 19 percent, Gingrich at 9 percent, Bradley at 6 percent and Clinton and California Gov. Pete Wilson, each with 4 percent.

``I'm not sure I can explain the phenomenon,'' Powell responded, when asked about the poll during a booksigning at Puyallup, Wash. ``The appeal I have right now is of a general nature. I'm not sure it is solid political appeal.''

``I am having a great time, speaking about issues,'' he added. ``But people like Bill Clinton and Bob Dole are in the trenches and the mud, fighting legislative battles. There is a difference and I understand that difference.''

Powell did better among the business people, all from companies with $250 million or more in annual sales, than he has fared in recent public opinion surveys that show him running close to Dole and well ahead of other Republican candidates.

Republican pollster Richard Wirthlin on Wednesday called Powell ``the hottest political property I have ever seen.''

He said his surveys showed Powell two weeks ago was named by 4 percent of respondents who were asked their presidential preference with no names suggested. Clinton was first at 20 percent and Dole was second at 9 percent.

By Wednesday, after intense coverage of Powell's new autobiography and his comments about considering the presidency, he was up to 11 percent. Clinton dropped to 16 percent and Dole to 7 percent.

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Republican Rep. Bob Dornan of California reasons that if Phil Gramm is doing it, why not Dornan? That is, run for president and Congress at the same time.

Dornan, whose presidential campaign struggles along with the tiniest of budgets and a family-run staff, is considering seeking re-election to his House seat at the same time he pursues the presidency, said his daughter and campaign manager, Terry Cobban.

California election officials told him he could do both, much as presidential rival Sen. Phil Gramm is keeping his name on the ballot for Senate while also running for president.

For Dornan, the idea is ``still in the thinking process'' and he has not made a decision, said Cobban. Dornan had earlier said this would be his last term in the House, but later amended that to say he was weighing whether to give up his presidential run and seek another term.

He said his analysis had changed with the Republican takeover of the House, which gave him two subcommittee chairmanships and more power to move legislation.

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Ross Perot has issued the platform of the new political party he intends to form. Not surprisingly, it sounds a lot like his last presidential campaign and the themes sounded at the United We Stand meeting he held for supporters in Dallas last month.

On key issues being debated in Washington, Perot settles for vague principles. He said plans to deal with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security should be tested before implementation and should be ``dynamic'' and not subject to restrictive legislation.

Further, Perot recommends: ``Explain these plans in detail to the American people. Get a consensus.''

On tax reform, Perot doesn't go out too far on a limb either, recommending a new tax system that is fair, ``paperless'' and raises sufficient revenue to support the government.

Any tax increases should be approved by a popular vote, he said.

Elections should be held on weekends, not Tuesdays. Former government employees should face a lifetime ban on working as a foreign lobbyists. Former elected and appointed officials should be barred from ever accepting money from foreign interests.