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Colbert's candidacy cracks up S.C. voters

Stephen Colbert has announced plans to run for president.
Stephen Colbert has announced plans to run for president.

Standing for "truthiness" and the American way, Comedy Central's favorite fake pundit, Stephen Colbert, says he plans to crash both presidential primaries in his home state of South Carolina.

Colbert announced he's running for president on his satirical political talk show "The Colbert Report" on Tuesday, unleashing an avalanche of red, white and blue balloons and cheers from fans he calls the Colbert Nation.

"After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching, I have heard the call," he said. "Nation, I shall seek the office of the president of the United States."

Ever the savvy politician, Colbert said he'd run both as a Republican and a Democrat. "That way, I can lose twice," he said on his show.

Heads of both South Carolina parties said Wednesday they would welcome the comedian on their tickets.

"The great thing about America is as long as he meets the requirements and his check clears he can be on the ballot," said South Carolina Republican Party chairman Katon Dawson. "Anybody can run for president. We look forward to him filing."

Joe Werner, executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said, "If Stephen wants to run for president of the United States in South Carolina, that's his right."

With two weeks left to file for the state's races, Colbert would have to pony up $35,000 to enter the Republican primary and find either $2,500 or 3,000 signatures to join the Democrats.

Colbert, who spent his childhood in Charleston, trumpeted being the state's "favorite son."

"The point is, folks, I am from South Carolina, and I am for South Carolina," he told the audience Tuesday. "I defy any candidate to pander more to the people of South Carolina. Those beautiful, beautiful people."

John Edwards' camp begged to differ with Colbert's "favorite" claim.

"We welcome any other South Carolina native to the race," said Teresa Wells, the Edwards S.C. campaign's communications director. But "John Edwards also won the South Carolina primary in 2004. That solidified our favorite son status, not just growing up here."

In Beaufort County, voters doubted Colbert would make a dent in January's poll results.

"The whole thing is farcical. He's just creating attention for himself," said Sun City resident Maureen Hermiston, who plans to vote in the Republican primary and is a member of the Sun City Republican Club. "All I know is he's a comedian, and he mostly pokes fun at Republicans."

Pat Goodman, a Sun City Democrat, said, "My husband watches him and he's always laughing.

"I think it's great when someone with a sense of humor enters politics. It lightens things up," said Goodman, who runs the Sun City Democratic Club. "But I'm not concerned it will make any kind of real difference."

After Colbert chatted with real-life pundit Larry King last week about a possible bid, South Carolina's public television service ETV invited the fake one to start his campaign with them.

"ETV would like to help in whatever way we can to assist Stephen in his pandering," joked "The Big Picture" news show host Andrew Gobeil in a press release.

Colbert was the No. 1 choice among college students in a recent informal poll by ETV asking who would inspire their interest in politics and the election, said Catherine Christman, the station's vice president of communications.

And among journalists, Colbert's story has spawned more calls to the state's Democratic Party than the primary's possible date change to Jan. 26, aid Werner.

"I guess Stephen has trumped us," he said.

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