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Colbert Consulted Parties Before Announcing Run

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/18/arts/television/18colb.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1192795272-vSkSL3wBFPfY901L4hb+DQ Colbert Consulted Parties
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 19, 2007

      Colbert Consulted Parties Before Announcing Run

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      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
      state’s 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. Colbert’s 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.
      Colbert’s 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. Stewart’s 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 mother’s favorite son,” he
      said. “She’s 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, there’s two ways,” Mr. Werner said. “The first
      is, you pay a $2,500 filing fee. And if you can’t
      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 state’s 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 don’t 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. Colbert’s
      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. Colbert’s case, we look forward to his paying the
      filing fee before Nov. 1.”
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