Tony Snow, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, is considered a leading candidate to replace Chriss Winston as director of White House speechwriting, sources said yesterday.

Winston, a former congressional speechwriter and spokeswoman for two labor secretaries, informed Chief of Staff John H. Sununu several weeks ago that she intended to leave the post.

Snow, who came to the Times from the Detroit News, where he had been deputy editorial page editor, said yesterday, "I have taken no new job yet." He said he had had conversations with the White House but declined to describe the talks. Snow describes himself as a "free-market conservative" and the editorial page he edits is conservative on all fronts.

Bush is not known for memorable speeches, preferring to address the country through short statements and informal question-and-answer sessions with reporters.

White House officials say that between Sununu and budget director Richard G. Darman on the domestic front and Secretary of State James A. Baker III and national security adviser Brent Scowcroft on the foreign policy front little produced by the speechwriters ever survives anyway.

GOP and White House sources said Winston had had problems with Sununu, but she denied it, attributing her departure to a desire to move to a job that would allow her to spend more time with her child. A speechwriter's job is notorious for its high-labor, all-hours schedule, with constant rewrites of pieces of major speeches a normal occurrence.

A White House official acknowledged yesterday that "serious" discussions had been held with Snow but said Winston's replacement had not been selected and that candidates other than Snow "remain in the mix."

The appointment of a chief speechwriter is one piece of what is said to be a major restructuring of the White House communications operation.