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John Anderson, without a party convention to boost his exposure and rally his support, has scored a publicity windfall. NBC's "Today" show plans to air Anderson interviews twice a day each day of the Republican National Convention July 14 through 18.

It's like "allowing one of the three candidates to make free commercials during the convention," says Rep. Guy Vander Jagt of Michigan, who will give its keynote address.

Reagan spokesman Lyn Nofziger adds, "What it amounts to is NBC injecting itself in a political campaign to give free publicity to one candidate in a most unusual way."

Although the interviews are raising questions about broadcast law, no legal complaints have been lodged.

"I just hope [NBC] will also use him at the Democratic convention," Nofziger says.

Anderson will be in Europe during the interviews, which will be beamed back by satellite.

In a problem-bound election year for a Democratic Congress and administration , the Republican Party's image is improving.

Since last fall, public confidence in each party's ability to handle the nation's problems has gone from a roughly even split to a 3-to-2 GOP edge over the Democrats.

According to a June poll by Market Opinion Research, commissioned by the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee:

* The Republican Party has moved well ahead of the Democratic in the public eye as the party to control inflation and government spending, hold down taxes, and maintain military security.

* Republicans have overtaken the Democrats as the party most expected to maintain world peace and ensure adequate energy supplies.

* The only issue surveyed where the Republicans lagged behind the Democrats was the unemployment problem. But here Republicans have more than doubled their share of voter favor to trail only 41 to 38 percent.

Despite the GOP's more "capable" image, according to this poll, 52 percent of the voters still intend to vote for Democrats in November, to 48 percent for Republicans. This nevertheless represents an 8 percent GOP gain since November.m

Democratic state chairmen put Reagan ahead of Carter in nearly half of their states. According to an ABC News survey, 24 chairmen said Reagan would probably win their states, to 15 who gave their states to Carter. One thought Anderson would carry his states, and 11 called it a tossup.

"The public doesn't want issue coverage, it wants entertainment," summarizes Michael Robinson, a political scientist with George Washington University. Robinson is director of the Media Analysis Project, a study of network coverage of the presidential campaign so far this year.

It focused on CBS, as representative of the other networks in its news format , and finds its coverage "extensive, nonpartisan, objective, and superficial."

But if CBS campaign coverage is superficial, Robinson says, it's not the network's fault. Serious treatment of the news just isn't popular. So networks tend to steer more toward "horse race" (who's in the lead by how much) coverage and away from the heavier issues.

Thus, the news media often create "early, media-based victors -- like George Bush -- and then tend to take the wheels off the bandwagons they have created," Robinson says.

John Anderson was the only one of 10 candidates to be portrayed positively on CBS both in personal qualities and in the successfulness of his campaign, the study noted. Usually, the more successful a campaign, the more negatively a candidate's personal attributes were portrayed.m

Ronald Reagan says he would end the grain embargo if elected president. GOP congressmen and Reagan staffers read a statement to a Washington news conference while Reagan was in Mexico that claimed the embargo has "hobbled American farmers" and had "virtually no impact on the Soviet Union."

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