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Pierre "Six-Pacque' now a pioneer on Internet

His name was synonymous with wealth and prestige. He went to the "right" schools _ Exeter, Princeton, Harvard. He sailed in the America's Cup.

So it came somewhat as a surprise when Pierre Samuel du Pont IV leapt into the rough-and-tumble world of politics.

No one was more aware of that than du Pont himself. The family eyebrows had raised just at the thought of him enrolling in law school. So when he entered the political world, he opted for a slight name change, asking that he be called "Pete," not Pierre.

At the same time, he referred to the average voter as "Joe Six-Pack," moving wags to dub him "Pierre S. Six-Pacque IV."

His first foray into politics turned out well. He was elected to the Delaware Legislature, serving in its House of Representatives from 1968 to 1970. He went on to win election to the U.S. House, serving from 1971 to 1977.

He came back home to seek election as Delaware governor and won. Such was his success that he was re-elected for a second term with 71 percent of the vote. Voters liked his record of cutting taxes after 22 consecutive increases, his success in balancing the budget and creating new jobs.

He had his critics. They faulted him for letting social programs and teachers' salaries lag as he focused on the economy.

But du Pont was proud of his record, and he believed the nation as a whole was ready to accept the conservative message he had been preaching.

So in June 1986, more than two years ahead of the 1988 Republican National Convention, du Pont became the first Republican to announce his candidacy for the party's presidential nomination.

That message, however, never caught on; at least not as preached by the blue-blood candidate from Delaware whose name identified him as being associated with inherited wealth and industrial power.

In February 1988, after poor showings in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, du Pont dropped out of the race.

Du Pont, 62, since has steered clear of elective politics, devoting himself to his law firm _ Richards, Layton & Finger _ and to duties as a board member or trustee of several corporations and organizations.

"Ever since that 1988 campaign, I've been on the issues end of things," he said.

In line with that, du Pont recently launched an Internet weekly magazine, Six issues of the public policy journal have been published. "Each includes about 20 articles," he said, "along with a little humor, a couple of cartoons and two or three editorials."

The e-zine appears on Thursdays, and on that night online chat is scheduled from 9 to 10 p.m. "During that hour, anyone can log on and talk about any policy matter," he said.

Du Pont said the response so far has been enthusiastic. "Now the trick is to build circulation and turn it into a real player in the public-policy area," he said. Du Pont does not plan to charge subscribers, but instead hopes to attract advertisers.

He has enlisted about 20 writers, including James K. Glassman of the Washington Post, Nadine Strossen of the American Civil Liberties Union, John Fund, who writes for the Wall Street Journal, Hugh Price of the Urban League and Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser. Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., will write a column after he leaves office in January.

This week's issue contains an imaginary online interview with Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole. Du Pont says he believes Dole must begin talking about a vision for the future if he expects to defeat President Clinton. "He needs to talk about growth and opportunity, but he hasn't done that," du Pont said.

"Dole can't run a successful campaign if he keeps irritating people on such issues as abortion," du Pont said. "He had that all solved once and then kind of aggravated everybody again. And his sallies into assault weapons remind me of Clinton's on gays in the military."

Those, du Pont said, are not central issues. "Rather, they just create nasty arguments. There's an economic case to be made, and Dole should get onto some kitchen table issues. If he does that, I think he can win."

Du Pont, who writes editorials for his new publication, has for some time written a syndicated newspaper column. But it is his new medium that excites him now.

"The idea," he said, "is that when you've looked through it, you feel you've had a full-course meal _ some meaty discussion of serious issues, a little lighthearted dessert and a twist of lemon column."