Political consultant Lyn Nofziger has apologized to Vice President Bush for suggesting that President Reagan's 1984 campaign might be dominated by Bush forces not loyal to the president.
Nofziger, who stirred a tempest at the White House with a letter in which he expressed concern that Reagan's reelection would become a "Bush-Reagan campaign," wrote to the vice president:
"I seemed to have stirred up a hornet's nest and in the process perhaps upset you. Let me apologize. That is not my purpose."
The Nofziger invitation to a planning session for a 1984 Reagan campaign angered some White House officials because of his statement that "I'm not confident that the campaign will be run by Reaganites."
The result was that senior White House staff members ordered administration officials not to attend Nofziger's meeting, held Monday.
One participant in the session said yesterday that the meeting was low-key, except for some grumbling from conservatives that they didn't have enough communication with White House chief of staff James A. Baker III.
In 1980, Baker ran Bush's presidential campaign, then joined Reagan's campaign after Bush dropped out. Baker was particularly angered by the Nofziger letter and his comments about Bush.
The participant at the 4 1/2-hour Nofziger session Monday said there was general agreement that Reagan would probably seek a second term, although the president has said repeatedly that he hasn't made up his mind.
The group, which included a number of political operatives who worked for Reagan in 1980 but few of those now associated with the White House, agreed that they should be prepared to put the Reagan troops in a reelection phase as soon as they get a signal from the president, the participant added.
Those who attended the session were pleased that Reagan had selected Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.) to fill the new post of "general chairman" of the Republican National Committee because it meant that he would give conservatives a "communications channel" with Reagan in 1984.
They agreed at the meeting not to form any specific group but to keep in touch and assemble their forces at the proper time, the participant said.
In his letter to the vice president, Nofziger praised Bush for "unswerving loyalty" to Reagan. He added: "Would that all who work for the president were as dedicated."
Nofziger went on to say that his remarks had been "misinterpreted," adding, "Maybe because I said it badly."
Nofziger, who was White House political director in 1981, said the letter was "not meant to cast any aspersions on Jim Baker. I am distressed that he appears to have misinterpreted it."
Baker was so angry when he first heard of the letter while traveling with Reagan in Latin America that he called Nofziger by telephone from Air Force One to protest. Later, Reagan also called and disavowed the session.
While the president has not yet decided on a second term, one of his lieutenants from the 1980 campaign talked about rules for the next campaign with the Federal Election Commission yesterday.
U.S. Treasurer Angela M. (Bay) Buchanan, who was treasurer of Reagan's 1980 primary and general election campaign committees, testified before the FEC yesterday on a series of rule changes the commission is considering for the 1984 elections.
Buchanan said in a telephone interview yesterday that her appearance before the commission is not a signal on Reagan's intentions but rather an opportunity for her to make suggestions in light of her experience with the Reagan campaigns in 1980 and 1976. The Reagan campaign committees from 1980 still exist largely for bookkeeping reasons, she said.