WHIPPANY, N.J., OCT. 13 -- President Reagan charged today that the Senate had turned the Supreme Court confirmation battle over Judge Robert H. Bork into a "political joke" and defiantly promised to find another high court nominee "that they'll object to as much as they did to this one."

Reagan's ad-libbed remarks to a reception for Republican campaign contributors shattered a strategy engineered by White House chief of staff Howard H. Baker Jr. to tone down presidential rhetoric about Bork and focus on obtaining a replacement nominee who can win Senate approval.

As Reagan spoke, another senator, Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced his opposition to Bork, the 54th to do so. Democratic and Republican leaders may decide Wednesday on the timing of the debate and final vote on Bork, with a Friday vote probably the earliest possible.

With their eyes on the nominee who will come after Bork, the White House staff had deleted from Reagan's main speech a statement in which Reagan asserted that "Judge Bork has been the victim of a sophisticated campaign of smears and lies," and they removed a Hollywood-based anecdote from the movie, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" in which Reagan likened himself to the hero fighting valiantly for a lost cause in a Senate chamber filled with lies.

In the original text of this combative speech to the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the president blamed Bork's plight on "a few liberal special interests {that} have declared a war of conquest on the American system of justice."

But three hours after this text was distributed to reporters, the White House substituted a toned-down version eliminating the sharp rhetoric and conceding that Bork would be rejected by the Senate. "Judge Bork and I agree that there are no illusions about the outcome of the vote in the Senate but we also agree a crucial principle is at stake," Reagan said. "That principle is the process that is used to determine the fitness of those men and women selected to serve on our courts -- and the ultimate decision will impact on each of us and each of our children if we don't undo what has already been done and see that that kind of performance is never repeated."

These gentle words reflected White House strategy without mirroring Reagan's feelings. These came to the fore an hour later when Reagan was completing his speech to the GOP fund-raiser and a woman shouted, "We want Bork, too."

"So do I," the president responded firmly and launched into a spirited defense of his nominee. "What's at issue is that we make sure that the process of appointing and confirming judges never again is turned into such a political joke," Reagan said. "And if I have to appoint another one, I'll try to find one that they'll object to as much as they did to this one."

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said that Reagan has requested time from the television networks to make a six- to seven-minute speech from the Oval Office at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday urging Bork's confirmation. Fitzwater said Reagan "wants to have a principled, disciplined, dignified debate." Two of the three networks -- ABC and CBS -- declined the White House request for time and NBC said it is undecided.

Before Reagan's ad-libbed remarks, White House officials were saying privately that Baker had prevailed over conservatives who want to make Bork a symbol of ideological confrontation. They said Baker and other senior officials had advised Reagan that an attack on the Senate could damage the next Supreme Court nominee's chances.

"Judge Bork appealed last Friday for everyone to lower their voices, and we are trying to do that," a White House official said.

But the Baker forces appeared to have failed to reckon with Reagan's own strong views. The president is said to be as angry as Bork that opponents of the nomination seem to have prevailed, and this attitude surfaced at the GOP fund-raiser.

White House communications director Thomas C. Griscom said he had "reworked" the original draft of the speech at home on Monday to make it "consistent with the tone the president used Saturday" in his radio address.

Fitzwater said Griscom had made some of his revisions this morning but blamed distribution of the original speech on a staff mixup. One of the chunks excised dealt with the 1939 film of the young, naive Mr. Smith who goes to Washington to fight for what he believes in. Speaking of the Bork nomination, Reagan would have said:

"Some have told me to throw in the towel. The special interests have won. It's a lost cause. You may remember in the movie 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,' when Jimmy Stewart stands in the well of the Senate and says that lost causes are 'the only causes worth fighting for . . . . ' And he added, 'I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause even if this room' -- he meant the Senate -- 'is filled with lies' . . . . So will I."

In the widely acclaimed Frank Capra film, Stewart wins his apparently "lost cause," the establishment of a national boy's camp. White House officials acknowledged that the Bork confirmation will not have a similarly happy ending for Bork or for the president.

On Capitol Hill yesterday, Senate Democrats pressed for a vote on the Bork nomination as early as Thursday, but Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) said some Republicans wanted to delay the vote until next week.

"We Democrats are ready to vote now," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said after a caucus of Senate Democrats.

"The president said he wanted a vote this week," Biden added. "Bob Dole said he wanted a vote immediately. They want a vote and we're ready to vote."

Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) suggested that the vote be set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, but was thwarted by objections from Dole. Dole was apparently acting on behalf of several conservative GOP senators who last week urged Bork to insist on a vote by the Senate and who are now calling for several days of debate.

One of the Republicans who met with Bork, Minority Whip Alan K. Simpson (Wyo.), suggested a vote next week, adding, "There is a very definite need to hear from those who do support Judge Bork."

Byrd later called for a vote at 4 p.m. Thursday and Dole promised an answer from Senate Republicans this morning.

Meanwhile, Reid, Nevada's freshman Democrat, announced his opposition to Bork, stating he "is simply not qualified" to serve on the Supreme Court.

Reid was the first senator to announce a decision on the nomination since Bork's defiant demand last week for a debate and vote by the Senate. Referring to this, Reid said Bork's "lack of calm and reasoned temperament was further demonstrated by his recent pronouncements on his determination to keep vacant a seat on the court as long as possible, without regard to the needs of the nation or his duty to a system of law which has conferred upon him so many benefits."

Reid, who succeeded Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.), one of Reagan's closest personal friends, was also the last of the Senate's 11 freshmen Democrats to announce opposition to Bork. He and seven of the other freshmen Democrats replaced Republicans who almost certainly would have voted for confirmation, accounting for a 16-vote swing against Bork. The solid opposition of the freshmen Democrats to the nomination underscored how badly Bork's chances were damaged by last year's congressional elections, when Democrats regained control of the Senate.

Like his newly elected colleagues from conservative states, Reid stressed that he supported appointment of judicial conservatives. But, citing Bork's criticism of a number of landmark Supreme Court decisions and his retraction and modification of some of those stands during his confirmation hearings, Reid said, "It is that lack of conviction, that inconsistency, those wild swings in philosophy, which doom the Bork nomination."

"A judge who sprints to the forefront of novel concepts may not be wicked or unintelligent, but he is certainly someone who should not sit on the judicial body that interprets the highest law of our land," he said.