Some columnists now write that those key administration Reaganites, Jim Baker and Bill Casey, are involved in a shootout in which only one will survive. Soon the President will have to choose between his chief of staff or his CIA chief. One will have to go.
No doubt that there is friction between the two men, compounded by a difference of opinion over how the Carter debating papers were accepted into the 1980 campaign. Baker's recollection is that they came from Casey. Casey says that he has no recollection of having seen the document and that it was a mistake for such papers to have been used by the Reagan people - thus pointing the finger at Baker's judgment.
Those who like to deal in high drama in this city see the Baker-Casey confrontation as the climax of a struggle between the GOP right wing and GOP moderates which has been going on since Reagan moved into the White House.
These sometimes rather imaginative writers have worked out this lineup: Leaders of administration conservative team - William Clark, Edwin Meese, and Casey. Leaders of administration moderate team - Vice-President Bush, Jim Baker, and Mike Deaver. These antagonists are supposed to be continually vying for presidential favor, each side hoping somehow to oust the other.
But the main force behind this struggle is supposed to be the party's far right, which is said to see in Baker's acceptance of the Carter documents the very blunder it needed to persuade the President to drop him from his administration.
Who are these right-wingers? And are they indeed trying to prevail on the President to get rid of Baker? If so, will they be successful?
Frank Fahrenkopf, Republican national chairman, said at a breakfast meeting with reporters that he was in constant touch with GOP state chairpersons, many of them con-servatives, and that he had not heard ''a single word'' about anyone wanting to get rid of Baker. He said that he knew of no effort from the conservative wing to ''get Baker.'' And that he doubted the President could be persuaded to drop Baker even if anyone was trying to get him ousted.