With less than a week to go before the midterm elections, House Republicans are engaged in such a brutal battle over who should run their campaign committee that the current committee head yesterday compared his challenger to Saddam Hussein.

At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Rep. Guy Vander Jagt (R-Mich.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), said his opponent, Rep. Don Sundquist (R-Tenn.), promised just two weeks ago that he would not run.

"I feel like {Egyptian President Hosni} Mubarak after Saddam Hussein looked him in the eye and said, 'Oh, I would never attack Kuwait,' " Vander Jagt said. "I do not feel comfortable that someone has launched a campaign against me in the last 10 days of this election when every fiber of my energy is devoted on trying to elect Republicans."

Amid the recriminations, Vander Jagt unveiled advertisements the NRCC will run on Cable News Network and in three congressional districts charging that members of Congress cut their own income taxes in the budget agreement. The ads are based on the fact that in eliminating the income tax "bubble," the agreement raised taxes on the very wealthy, but cut the marginal tax rate from 33 to 31 percent on upper-middle-income taxpayers, such as those making $125,000 -- the pay of House members starting next year when the tax changes go into effect.

Democrats denounced the Republicans for using distorted math. They said that the Republicans willfully ignored the agreement's increase in payroll taxes for Medicare for upper-middle-income people and did not count a tightening of the rules on their tax deductions.

The GOP's domestic strife began with President Bush's move toward raising taxes, which enraged congressional conservatives and Republican candidates who were running on "no new taxes" platforms. Edward J. Rollins, co-chairman of the NRCC, issued a memo to Republican candidates urging them not to "hesitate to oppose either the president or proposals being advanced in Congress."

Vander Jagt yesterday defended Rollins and the memo, saying Republican candidates "love it. They have been using it." He denied the president had asked for Rollins' resignation and said that Rollins "absolutely" would stay on as co-chairman. Vander Jagt's only concession was to say that the memo had been "inartfully worded."

Vander Jagt said he could not understand why the NRCC would change leadership before the 1992 elections, which will take place after reapportionment. "I don't think you send in a scrub team for the Super Bowl," he said.

Ralph Perrey, Sundquist's press secretary, said, "We're not going to get into a name calling kind of thing with Mr. Vander Jagt." But he added that a Super Bowl team first had to make the playoffs. "Has the NRCC been a playoff team? The record suggests it has not been."