Most campaign food is bad. It is supposed to be bad, and it is wise to have low expectations. My own preferences are for the thoroughly enjoyable and doubtless totally unhealthy regional specialities that enterprising advance persons have persuaded the local cooks and cafe's to donate.

In this category I put the tamales in Brownsville, Tex., the chili dogs in Cincinnati and the barbecued beef and the firehouse chili served in a makeshift White House press filing center in the Hackensack, N.J., fire station. For added authenticity, the firemen responded to a fire while reporters were filing.

On the Pan Am press charter used by the White House reporters, the service is terrific and the food ranges from very good to awful. My favorite is corned beef hash and eggs for breakfast, and there is plenty of fresh fruit and orange juice for the health food types.

Whatever else one can say about Ronald Reagan, he has the good sense to bug out to his ranch at every opportunity, which leaves the press corps in Santa Barbara, one of my favorite eating towns anywhere. I recommend any of the dozen varieties of fresh fish at Castagnola's, which in the narrow genre of cafeteria-style fish retaurants has no peer. The grilled petrale sole or the grilled calamari (squid) are particular delicacies.

Or eat anything at the Olive Mill Bistro, a French restaurant where the veal and the abalone appetizers are even better than those Brownsville tamales.