Republican presidential contender Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) said yesterday that the prescription of "bitter pills and bitter medicine" offered by Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) to cure the nation's economic ills represents "a step back" for the Republican Party and will ultimately drag down Dole's presidential campaign.

In an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, Kemp contrasted his optimistic vision of rapidly expanding economic growth with what he called the "gloom and doom scenerio" offered by Dole and another GOP candidate, former television evangelist Marion G. (Pat) Robertson.

He also jabbed at the Republican front-runner, Vice President Bush, saying that Bush's support is "very shallow" and that he has failed to inspire the kind of loyalty and commitment that "you would expect {after} having served a popular Republican president for eight years."

Kemp's remarks were a clear indication of how he hopes to separate himself from Bush and Dole and of his gamble that, despite the federal budget deficit, the stock market's plunge and a general sense of unease over the economy, voters next year will reject calls for austerity and instead stick with the economic policies of the Reagan administration.

Portraying himself as the standard bearer of "the futurist wing of the party," Kemp said his main rivals represent the "old guard" of "orthodox, conventional, status quo Republicans." While Dole earlier this week said the American people "are ready for bitter medicine" to reduce the deficit, Kemp yesterday reiterated that an unspecified "lid" on federal spending and economic growth spurred by lower taxes and interest rates would increase revenues and shrink the deficit.

This is a central tenet of supply-side economics, which Dole and others charge has failed, bringing on record-high budget deficits. Dole calls the deficit "the single greatest threat to a prosperous and dynamic America." The argument is likely to dominate economic policy disputes among the Republican candidates in the weeks ahead.

"The issues ultimately are going to come down closer to my side, what I call the progressive, conservative wing of the party, as opposed to the old guard wing," Kemp said. "With Bob Dole casting his whole future for the nomination on the basis of bitter pills and bitter medicine, austerity and sacrifice, he is clearly identified with that wing of the party. It would be a step back to the old fiscalism of the Republican Party."

Kemp said Dole's message "puts him in the same corner" as 1984 Democratic presidential nominee Walter F. Mondale, who called for a tax increase, and could derail Dole's campaign in New Hampshire, site of the first presidential primary and a state known for its anti-tax sentiment.

"If Bob Dole keeps talking the way he does about raising taxes and imposing pain on the American people, I think he could very well stumble heavily in New Hampshire," Kemp said.

He ridiculed Bush, saying that the vice president's suggestion that a balanced budget would aid farmers is "the equivalent of Herbert Hoover saying in 1932 that we need to balance the budget and raise taxes. Preventing recessions is the strongest way to continue our deficit-reduction package."

Calling Robertson "a wild card" in the race, Kemp ducked questions about whether his own candidacy could survive finishing behind the evangelist in Iowa. But he said Robertson, like Dole, "thinks we're going to hell in a handbasket" and argued that such a message will not prevail in the GOP contest.

Outlining his economic policies, Kemp said he would hold all federal spending except for Social Security to current levels or to slight increases above the rate of inflation. He said he would seek a coordinated program of tax and interest-rate reductions by the United States and its allies to spur worldwide economic growth. The growth, he argued, would increase federal revenues, thereby reducing the deficit while spending was held in check.

Kemp reiterated his objections to the proposed treaty on intermediate-range nuclear forces. He said the United States should not sign any arms-control pacts until the Soviets comply with existing treaties.