Stephen Colbert Explores Presidential Run

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Satire

Stephen Colbert readies for presidential run
by Kim Geiger
LA Times
January 13, 2012

After hinting that he might jump into the South Carolina presidential primary race, satirist Stephen Colbert on Thursday moved one step closer to becoming a presidential candidate, declaring the formation of an “exploratory committee” and turning over his super-PAC to fellow Comedy Central host Jon Stewart.

The move is largely symbolic – Colbert missed the Nov. 1 deadline to join the GOP primary ballot and has not qualified for the ballot in any other states. It’s unclear how he plans to win votes in South Carolina, where write-in votes “are not allowed in political party primaries or for president and vice-president,” according to the South Carolina State Election Commission.

But it allows Colbert to press forward with what has become a running skit mocking federal campaign laws.

In the first presidential election since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, the GOP primary has been marked by a flood of money from so-called super-PACs, a new type of committee that can collect unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and individuals and spend that money to run ads on behalf of a candidate, so long as it does not coordinate with the candidate or the candidate’s campaign.

On his show Thursday night, Colbert noted the many super-PACs that have been created by the former aides of current GOP contenders, mocking the idea that coordination wasn’t happening. (Former Obama aides have also formed their own super-PAC.)

“I wouldn’t even want to create the appearance of electoral skulduggery,” Colbert said before bringing Stewart onstage to discuss turning Colbert’s super-PAC over to his friend and coworker.

“Can we do this?” Stewart asked. “Because you and I are also business partners…”

Trevor Potter, Colbert’s lawyer who has become a regular fixture in the ongoing skit, gave them the go-ahead. Stewart can even employ Colbert’s super-PAC staff, Potter said, “as long as they have no knowledge of Stephen’s plans.”

“Well, that’s easy,” Colbert said. “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”

Colbert’s decision to “explore” running for president was prompted by a recent poll which showed him placing ahead of former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, a candidate who has been campaigning for months.

The poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, showed Colbert with 5% support in South Carolina, compared to Huntsman’s 4%. Mitt Romney led the poll with 27%, followed by Newt Gingrich with 23%, Rick Santorum with 18%, Ron Paul with 8% and Rick Perry with 7%.

Much of Colbert’s support came from Democrats. Thirty-four percent of Democrats planning to vote in the GOP primary would support Colbert, the poll found.

And nothing would prevent Stewart from running ads in South Carolina promoting Colbert’s candidacy, if he chose to run.

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