Republican presidential hopeful Alexander M. Haig Jr. yesterday began a two-week, $35,000 run of television commercials in New Hampshire, casting himself as a man of "strength, skill and understanding."

The three watchwords are repeated throughout the 30-second spots, and at one point form a curtain of print, covering the screen. One ad, titled "Stock Market," features "Presidential Candidate Al Haig," as he's identified in subtitles, talking about the need for "a specific, detailed program for economic recovery." Viewers are told to write away for it.

In another spot, "Gorbachev," the announcer asks, "Of all the candidates, which do you want on the other side of the table?" Haig, it is hoped.

"In the history of the United States, we have had 12 presidents who had previously served as generals in the army," the announcer said in a third spot. "In the history of the United States, we have had eight wars, and not a single one of them started while a former general was president."

In all three spots, Haig is unsmiling and standing stiffly behind a hotel lectern, where media consultant Jay Bryant filmed him. At a news conference, Bryant said that staging a speech at the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., across the street from Haig headquarters, was cheaper than filming one in Iowa or New Hampshire.

Also yesterday, Haig's new campaign manager, Brian Sweeney, was introduced to the news media. Sweeney has run campaigns in his home town of Chicago and elswhere.

"I'm in control here," he quipped.