Colbert Consulted Parties Before Announcing Run
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By JACQUES STEINBERG
Published: October 18, 2007
Stephen Colbert who announced plans to run for the
presidency, though only in South Carolina, on his
Comedy Central show Tuesday night is serious enough
about the stunt that his staff reached out to the
states Democratic and Republican committees in
advance of his declaration.
Joe Werner, executive director of the South Carolina
Democratic Party, said that a representative for Mr.
Colbert, who was raised in Charleston, called three
weeks ago asking about filing dates and other
requirements. Mr. Werner added, From what I
understand, he does have credible people down here,
working to have him placed on the ballot.
Katon Dawson, the chairman of the state Republican
Party, said his office had also received a call from
Mr. Colberts staff on Tuesday. The call came just
hours before Mr. Colbert taped his own show (in which
he said he hoped to run as both a Democrat and a
Republican) as well as a teaser to his announcement
that appeared on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,
which leads into The Colbert Report.
Mr. Dawson, though, was far more dismissive of Mr.
Colberts apparent intentions than his Democratic
counterparts. My advice, he said in an interview,
is that he could probably have more fun buying a
sports car and getting a girlfriend.
How far Mr. Colbert is willing to go and why exactly
he is doing this, beyond stoking interest in his show
and his new book, I Am America (and So Can You!)
was not at all clear. He did not return messages left
with various publicists yesterday. Mr. Stewart
declined to be interviewed.
In a surprise appearance on Mr. Stewarts show just
after 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Mr. Colbert arrived on a
bicycle piloted by someone in an Uncle Sam costume.
Propping his feet on a hay bale and cracking open what
appeared to be a beer bottle, Mr. Colbert, in
character as a conservative blowhard, told Mr. Stewart
that he had decided to officially consider whether or
not I will announce.
But on his own show, which began at 11:30, he touched
off a cascade of red, white and blue balloons by
declaring, After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching,
I have heard the call.
He noted that he was running as a favorite son
candidate though not my mothers favorite son, he
said. Shes too fair-minded to ever show a preference
between the eight of us. (Mr. Colbert, 43, is the
youngest of 11 children.)
In seeking to turn punch lines into sound bites, Mr.
Colbert evoked memories of Pat Paulsen, the sad-eyed
comedian who, in 1968, first announced on The
Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that he was running for
president as the candidate of the Straight Talking
American Government (STAG) Party. Last year, in Man
of the Year, Robin Williams played a Daily
Show-like host who seeks the presidency and wins.
So assuming Mr. Colbert keeps the gag going, what
would he have to do to get on the Democratic ballot in
the South Carolina primary, which is expected to be
held on Jan. 26?
Well, theres two ways, Mr. Werner said. The first
is, you pay a $2,500 filing fee. And if you cant
afford to do the $2,500, you can gather 3,000
Time, at least for now, is on his side. Those seeking
a claim to the states 54 delegates to the Democratic
National Convention can start to file their paperwork
on Monday, and have until Nov. 1 to complete the
Mr. Colbert would also need the blessing of the
executive council of the South Carolina Democratic
Party. And that could pose a problem if he goes ahead
with his apparent intention to seek a line on both the
Democratic and Republican ballots. I dont believe
you can do that, Mr. Werner said.
But what if Mr. Colbert decided to throw in his lot
solely with the Democrats? Provided he met all the
other requirements, Mr. Werner said, our executive
council would have a hard time not putting him on the
However leery Mr. Dawson may be about Mr. Colberts
plans, he said that he did not believe the Republicans
could stop him from seeking both Republican and
Democratic delegates. There is nothing in our filing
that would prohibit him from running on both ballots,
if he chose to pay the filing fees, he said.
And what is that fee? It is $35,000, Mr. Dawson said.
The great thing about America, Mr. Dawson said, is,
if you can meet the constitutional requirements to run
for president of the United States, you can do so. In
Mr. Colberts case, we look forward to his paying the
filing fee before Nov. 1.