IN ONE OF HIS less large-minded moments, Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) has come up with a rather squalid way to settle what he seems to believes is an old political score. According to a United Press International dispatch the other day, the senator says he thinks Watergate Special Prosecutor Charles Ruff stalled on clearing the GOP presidential ticket of damaging allegations during the 1976 campaign. So now Sen. Dole's working out his pique by stalling Mr. Ruff's confirmation to an important position in the Health Education and Welfare Department.

Mr. Ruff is President Carter's choice to be HEW's deputy inspector general, a position created to root out Medicare and Medicaid fraud. But Mr. Dole is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which must pass on Mr. Ruff's nomination. Though indications are that the committee is prepared to approve the selection, Mr. Dole has placed a "hold" on the nomination. As the senator puts it, "Now, Ruff's going to be a big official in the Carter administration - if he gets out of the finance committee. I've got a hold on him right now . . . I have some more questions to ask."

Sen. Dole hastens to add that he's not trying to hold up the nomination permanently, which is precisely why everyone could easily do without this petty demonstration. Moreover, as you may remember, Mr. Ruff did not deny the handling of any allegations involving the GOP ticket that were officially presented to his office for investigation. As for some important allegations involving the Republican ticket that were officially presented to his office, it was well before the election - Oct. 14, to be exact - that Mr. Ruff issued his statement specifically clearing President Ford.

At any rate, if Sen. Dole really does have some serious questions to ask Mr. Ruff in the wake of the hearing on the nomination a month ago, we trust he will raise them soon - for so far none have been forthcoming. Otherwise, the senator should give up this silly game and let the full Senate pass judgment on Mr. Ruff.