Alex Haley would like Gary Carmen. Carmen (University of New Hampshire '52) remembers vivdly the day his grandmother, half-a-century after surviving a Ukrainian childhood of sanctioned anti-Semitism, became an American citizen. Because his grandparents worked in sweatshops, politely called the garment industry. Carmen refuses to join the anti-union crowd.

Because, as he explains in his own words, "Politics can touch and change people's lives for the better," Gerry Carmen, 32 years out Manchester Public High School, is Ronald Reagan's 1980 New Hampshire campaign manager.

State Sen. Susan McLane of Concord -- among her 467 pending projects -- serves on a citizens' committee to establish a New England ski museum. One qualifiction for her membership on this committee: she won the 1978 giant slalom national championship in the over-40 women's division.

Daughter of the dean of Dartmouth College, wife of a former Rhodes Scholar and present executive councillor (Dartmouth, Harvard Law), mother of five grown children, Susan McLane is a remarkably energetic and totally committed public citizen.

During the last two years, in addition to her service in the state legislature, McLane is now or has been: president of the New Hampshire World Affairs Council, teaching fellow at Harvard's Kennedy Institute of Politics, chair of the Republican task force of the National Women's Political Caucus, and George Bush's personal choice as one of his 22 New Hampshire delegates to the 1980 Republican National Convention.

Concord, brimming with bookstores and wide streets is the New Hampshire of Norman Rockwell, 22 minutes and a million miles from grimy Manchester. Manchester is relentlessly unpicturesque, and Manchester knows it. A city of hourly wages and veterans' clubs, Manchester is not posing for portraits or inspiring songs, Manchester is a down-at-the-heels New England milltown. Concord, where the old police station is now a popular tavern, is the state capital and has a high percentage of down vests per capita.

Gerry Carmen and Susan McLane, Dartmouth and the University of New Hampshire, Manchester and Concord -- all reveal another facet of the increasingly bitter Bush-Reagan race in New Hampshire.

Since 1964, those Republicans who historically called themselves "liberal" or "progressive" or "modern" or "moderate" have been almost everywhere in general retreat. In 1976, the small band of liberal Republicans concentrated in the Northeast -- men like Edward Brooke, William Scranton, Clifford Case and Elliot Richardson -- had no choice but to line up for Gerald Ford against Ronald Reagan. In 1980, their numbers and influence even further reduced by election defeats, the moderate Republicans are being done in nationally by census figures that show the South and the West, the fortress of the conservative opposition, growing in size and strength.

Even a conservative theologian would have difficulty explaining any profound ideological rift between Reagan and Bush in 1980. There are very few substantive differences, but their stylistic differences are significant. Bush is Andover and Yale in a state and in a party where those still count for something. Reagan is neither -- and California to boot. Bush, as his radio commercials remind New England voters, is "a native son."

Which brings us to one irony of 1980 Republican presidential politics: if George Bush had remained in Connecticut and won a seat in the United States Senate, he would not be the favorite to win the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 26. As a senator from Connecticut, Bush could not have been either a defender of Richard Nixon through Watergate or an early and strong advocate of decontrol of oil. If he had, Connecticut's voters would have give Sen. Bush early retirement in favor of somebody named Grasso or Dodd.

Some future Bush biographer may conclude that President Bush's decision to move to Houston was conclusive proof of his political genius. By responding to a Houston constituency rather than a New Haven constituency, George Bush could earn his conservative credentials in Congress.

But New Haven, like Cambridge, is more than a city, too, is a credential -- a credential that is obviously still highly regarded by people like Henry Cabot Lodge, William Saltonstall and Elliot Richardson, all of whom have recently endorsed George Bush.

So while the rest of the nation awaits the network projections on New Hampshire, more than a few Republicans in this primary state will be fighting another more personal political battle. For many of the Reagan volunteers working under Gerry Carmen, this election is one more installment in the continuing struggle between Schlitz and sherry, between the citizenship papers and the collected papers, between night school and graduate school.