Presidential candidates Pat Robertson and Jesse L. Jackson are causing a stir at the Federal Election Commission over their requests for federal matching funds, while Gary Hart is still being dogged by creditors from his debt-ridden 1984 campaign.

Republican Robertson says he doesn't want -- at least not yet -- the $4.5 million in matching funds he is qualified to receive next week, while Democrat Jackson has run into a snag in his request for the funds that may cost him a spot on the primary ballot in South Dakota.

Meanwhile, Xerox Corp. has won a court order to seize federal matching funds that have been approved by the FEC for Hart's renewed presidential campaign, but it was not clear what effect the ruling in D.C. Superior Court would have.

In an unprecedented move, Robertson's campaign lawyer sent a letter to the FEC yesterday asking the agency to tell the Treasury Department to defer sending the campaign matching funds for up to 30 days while the campaign decides whether to accept the funds. Candidates who accept the federal money are required to abide by overall and state-by-state spending limits.

Jackson has been barred, at least temporarily, from having his name placed on the ballot in the Feb. 23 South Dakota primary because his application for federal matching funds wasn't certified by the FEC by the close of business yesterday.

A spokeswoman for the Jackson campaign said FEC auditors are seeking more information about checks to the campaign that had bounced, and the campaign hoped to have the information hand-delivered to the FEC today.

South Dakota state party rules require that a candidate be eligible for matching funds by Dec. 29. Jim Robinson, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he will have to leave Jackson's name off the list of candidates he forwards to the secretary of state.

Jackson campaign manager Gerald Austin said in Chicago that the campaign would go to court if necessary to challenge the South Dakota rule.

The Robertson campaign's letter to the FEC left his Republican opponents guessing as to why his campaign, which was in debt at the end of September, would pass up such a huge injection of funds with the Iowa and New Hampshire votes only weeks away.

Robertson has said consistently that he is philosophically opposed to the idea of using public funds for political races. He did apply for matching funds, however, saying he would decide later whether to accept the funds. The FEC found him eligible to receive $4,495,607, as part of more than $25 million in matching funds that goes out to candidates on Monday.

Robertson's attorney, Marion E. Harrison, said in the letter to the FEC that the campaign still hasn't decided whether to accept federal matching funds and the spending limits and audit that goes with them. If the candidate does decide to accept the funds it wants them delivered promptly upon receipt of another letter, Harrison added.

Harrison noted that he isn't asking that the campaign be decertified for matching funds. He also said he was making the request "to avoid testing the issue . . . as to whether a presidential campaign committee, found eligible for matching funds, binds itself irrevocably to the matching funds procedures and limits once it actually or constructively receives matching funds."

The Robertson campaign office is closed for the holidays and campaign officials couldn't be reached for comment yesterday. An FEC spokeswoman said the commission would have no immediate comment on the Robertson request.

Jan Baran, general counsel for the campaign of Vice President Bush, said yesterday he thought Robertson's request is likely to be approved because "you're not on the hook {to abide by spending limits} until you get the money."

Dan Swillinger, general counsel for the campaign of GOP candidate Pierre S. (Pete) DuPont IV, said the Robertson maneuver raised the possibility that the former television evangelist was confident he could raise enough money privately so he wouldn't need the matching funds, or that he was "nervous" about whether his internal bookkeeping would meet FEC audit standards.

"We're plowing new ground here," Swillinger said, noting that the only other major candidate to campaign without matching funds was Republican John Connally, who spent about $11 million in 1980 and won only one delegate before dropping out.

Steve Lassiter, the Jackson campaign controller, said yesterday that he expects the delay in certification to be cleared up quickly.

The South Dakota ballot problem may be more difficult. State party director Robinson said, "We're trying to find some way to help. Our rules were not made in an effort to keep legitimate candidates like Jesse Jackson off the ballot."

He said the state party might argue that yesterday's "preliminary" certification give way to a "final" certification next Monday as a way of giving Jackson extra time to become eligible for federal matching funds.

Hart's latest problem is a reflection of the $1.3 million debt left over from his unsuccessful 1984 campaign. He owes Xerox about $10,000 plus interest. After the FEC certified this week that Hart's renewed 1988 campaign is eligible for matching funds, lawyers for Xerox moved in court here to try to seize part of that money.

But the order was served on the FEC and it is not clear whether the FEC technically has possession of the money, which is to go to Hart directly from the Treasury Department. Nor is it clear whether money Hart raises for his 1988 campaign can be used to pay off debts from 1984.

Staff writer Bill Peterson in Chicago contributed to this report.