EASTON, Md., January 13, 2012 — It’s official: comedian and host of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert announced Thursday night that he is seriously considering tossing his hat into the ring. First stop: South Carolina.
Under cascading red, white, and blue balloons, Colbert made it official on his January 12 show, saying, “I am proud to announce that I am forming an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my possible candidacy for the president of the United States of South Carolina. I’m doing it.”
Polls by Public Policy Polling already show Colbert with 5% of South Carolina voters saying they prefer him, placing him ahead of former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who stands at 4%, although he is 22 points behind front runner Mitt Romney. Texas Governor Rick Perry is the choice of 7% of those polled and Congressman Ron Paul is at 8%.
To comply with election laws, Colbert handed over control of his Super PAC, “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” to Comedy Central host Jon Stewart under the watchful eye of his legal advisor, Trevor Potter.
While Colbert will not be on the ballot in South Carolina because he missed the November 1 filing date, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t expect to be a factor in the race, explaining, “Clearly my fellow South Caroliniacs see me as the only Mitternative,”
Also Colbert has all along been lobbying to get a referendum on South Carolina’s ballot that asks if “corporations are people?” or “if only people are people?”
The idea for the referendum came from Romney’s assertion in Iowa last year that “corporations are people.” Another PPP poll showed that 67% of South Carolinians say that only people are people while 33% say corporations are also people.
After the questions were accepted as a ballot referendum, the state’s Supreme Court denied their inclusion, disappointing Colbert, but not stopping his drive to make a difference in South Carolina.
The effect of the Colbert Super PAC on the South Carolina primary will be interesting to follow. ABC News reports that Colbert said, “With your help and with possibly the help of some outside group that I am not coordinating with, we can explore taking this country back…. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless Citizens United.”
Citizens United gave birth to the legitimacy of Super PACs when the Supreme Court ruled that independent spending for political purposes was protected under the First Amendment in the landmark case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. The Super PAC ad war between the Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has taken over the airwaves in the primary states, raising questions about who the donors actually are.
But Super PACs are not required to release that information unlike candidates who must do so.
“A [candidate’s] PAC can only take so much money, it can only spend so much money, and I wanted to spend unlimited amounts of money and receive, more importantly, unlimited amounts of money, and so my lawyer told me all I had to do was add a cover letter that said that I intend this to be a Super PAC and it was a Super PAC,” Colbert told Ted Koppel during an interview to be aired this coming Monday night on NBC’s Rock Center.
Koppel asked how much money his Super PAC had raised, Colbert said, “The fun thing about that is I don’t have to tell you. My major donor is none of your – damn business.”
Sounds like Stephen Colbert is a real candidate.
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib in the Communities at the Washington Times. She can also be heard on the Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and and online media.
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