MANCHESTER, N.H., NOV. 10 -- The 1,200 whistling, foot-stomping supporters who turned out here Monday night to greet Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) as part of his presidential announcement tour were happy to wave signs mocking the front-runner for the 1988 GOP nomination that read "George Who?"

"I haven't seen this many people in New Hampshire in all the time I've been coming up here," Dole said, surveying the crowd.

But the event was not quite what it seemed. Many of the Dole supporters, including the hundreds of students from Wellesley, Harvard, Yale and Boston College, had been bused in for the event from Massachusetts or Connecticut. The plan all along, Dole New Hampshire spokesman Paul Jacobson said today, was to make the event a "regional" one.

As a demonstration of Dole's ability to build a New England crowd, it was formidable. But as an indication of how much of that strength will carry over into New Hampshire's primary, it turned out to be inconclusive.

Vice President Bush attracted a smaller crowd less than 24 hours later when he spoke to a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Laconia today. But the 375 people who gathered for box lunches and soda hailed from -- and vote in -- the New Hampshire towns of Tilton, Franklin and Laconia.

Bush leads Dole by more than 20 percentage points, according to the most recent polls here. But their appearances here this week demonstrate that neither Bush nor Dole is taking New Hampshire -- or each other -- for granted.

"I'm going to work just as hard as ever," Bush said. "Because I don't want anyone to outhustle me."

And despite the rules of Republican campaign politeness, the gloves are off. Dole took his first direct jab at Bush during his announcement swing through Kansas, Iowa and New Hampshire on Monday, pointedly saying that he is running on his "record," not his "resume." He repeated that in television interviews today.

Bush, known for his credentials, widened his eyes in mock surprise today, drawing laughter from the lunchtime crowd when he responded: "I can't believe he'd make reference to me in that way."

But quickly he returned the jab. "I've got a record in public service," he said. "Nobody was suggesting it was resume when I was fighting for my country as a 20-year-old Navy pilot and was shot down, when I lifted up the CIA and made more decisions every day than I ever made as a member of the United States Congress."

Bush continued to aim at Dole, who has chosen the issue of the national budget deficit as a primary talking point in his campaign.

"I hope this doesn't sound too confrontational, but the Congress appropriates every single dime and spends every single dime," Bush said. "And when the going gets great and the market's going up, fine, everything's great. And then when something goes wrong, they point the finger at the president of the United States.

"I don't think it's fair. We have sent budget after budget to the Hill that would bring it down, not by raising taxes, but by restraining spending," he added.

Bush also criticized his opponents for failing to offer immediate support for President Reagan's pending arms agreement with the Soviet Union. "Why, for political reasons, people are in there being against that which they were for on INF {intermediate-range nuclear forces}, I don't know," he said. "But that's their business."

None of the other GOP presidential candidates has endorsed the proposed INF agreement and several have questioned it.