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Elizabeth Drew, a political journalist who was one of the questioners at the first Ford-Carter debate, said yesterday she believes the current election process tempts presidential candidates, or "homocandidatus," to ignore issues in their quest for a positive public image.

In Cambridge yesterday to promote her new book, "American Journal: The Events of 1976," Drew said she writes in journal form not in an attempt to go back and drain the campaign of its excitement, but to put in writing "how it looked, how it felt."

She described the electoral system as a preselective process which rewards "compulsiveness, stamina, and drivenness," adding that candidates are really just "trying to get through the day without making a mistake.

The election process would work better if there were more candidates who were genuinely thoughtful and who addresed themselves to serious concerns, she said. If such candidates appeared, Drew said, there might be a different kind of campaign.

Drew said she envisages a "mythical candidate" who would deal with difficult questions seriously and would treat the voters as adults. This candidate would be genuine, but not because his image makers had molded him to fit that image.

Commenting on her overall reaction to the presidential campaign, Drew said, "I went into it worried, and I came out of it more worried. It doesn't seem to be the best process imaginable for electing a person to that position."

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