Republican presidental hopeful Ronald Reagan said this week he would accept the vice presidential nomination in 1980 if he were asked by the party's presidential choice.

The former California governor - who had declined to make a similar declaration throughout his 1976 presidential campaign made his comment during an appearance before the Grocery Manufacturers of America on Wednesday.

". . . I don't know anyone who could refuse it," Reagan said, when asked if he would accept the vice presidential nomination.

A recording of his remarks was made available to The Washington Post by Tex McCreary, who is widely known in Republican political circles and is chairman of Estee Corp., which produces dietetic foods.

McCreary had asked the 68-year-old Reagan if he would accept the nomination for vice president if asked by the 1980 presidential nominee. McCreary framed his question in the context of the 1980 Republican nominee being Sen. Howard Baker, John Connally, or George Bush.

"Well, you have me a little bit tied there," Reagan began. ". . . I certainly will support whomever is the nominee of our party . . .

"But let me remind you that the press is telling the people of American everyday that I'm so decrepit with age that I must appoint a boy in his teens if I'm the [presidential] nominee, . . . to be ready to take over the day after the Inaugural. I don't think anybody would think that I'm able for the second spot if I'm not able for the first . . .

"I doubt such a request would come. But I think anyone would have to feel the same as I did last time. I didn't want the job but if it was a call to duty and you felt you could help I don't know anyone who could refuse it."

Reagan added: "My own view on the vice presidency is that it is described by an old rule of dogsledding - only the lead dog gets a change of scenery."

Reagan has not declared as a 1980 GOP presidential candidate, but a campaign committee is operating actively in his behalf. For months he has been listed at the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in public opinion surveys. CAPTION: Picture, ROBERT A. HURWITCH . . . "a life sentence of remorse"