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Stephen Colbert beats Jon Huntsman in poll, then mulls presidential run

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 4 2015 8:32 a.m. MDT

Stephen Colbert, center, and Jon Stewart, right, hold hands during Stephen Colbert, center, and Jon Stewart, right, hold hands during "The Colbert Report," as Trevor Potter, Colbert's lawyer, looks on Thursday in New York. (Associated Press)

After beating Jon Huntsman Jr. in a poll earlier this week, funny man Stephen Colbert is seriously considering campaigning as a candidate for South Carolina's Jan. 21 Republican presidential primary.

Colbert had previously flirted on his Comedy Central show "The Colbert Report" with the idea of putting his name on the presidential ballot in his native South Carolina, but the posturing took on a much more serious tone this week after Colbert garnered 5 percent of votes in a poll of South Carolina Republicans that Public Policy Polling released Tuesday — placing Colbert just ahead of Huntsman's 4 percent. (Without fanfare or forewarning, Public Policy Polling stealthily inserted Colbert's name into the list of actual Republican presidential candidates.)

The possibility of Colbert campaigning in South Carolina is so serious, in fact, that on his Thursday show Colbert handed over control of his super PAC "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow" to Jon Stewart, host of "The Daily Show."

In this photo provided by Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert, center, and John Stewart, right, hold hands during The Colbert Report, as Trevor Potter looks on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, in New York. During the episode, Colbert legally transferred his super political action committee to Stewart, his friend and Comedy Central cohort. Dropping by from In this photo provided by Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert, center, and John Stewart, right, hold hands during The Colbert Report, as Trevor Potter looks on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, in New York. During the episode, Colbert legally transferred his super political action committee to Stewart, his friend and Comedy Central cohort. Dropping by from "The Daily Show," Stewart happily signed the documents and accepted the post, which was ceremonially observed by the two holding hands and bodily transferring the PAC powers. (Comedy Central, Kristopher Long, Associated Press)

Politico reports: "Stephen Colbert announced on 'The Colbert Report' that he is exploring a presidential run in South Carolina, and made it legal by handing control of his super PAC to Jon Stewart in the opening segment of Thursday night's show. … Trevor Potter, the former Federal Election Commission chairman, acts as Colbert's lawyer and was a guest on the show. 'You cannot be a candidate and run a super PAC,' Potter said. 'That would be coordinating with yourself.'"

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ABC News reports the Colbert super PAC is making television ad buys for South Carolina. "The group is already buying up television air time in South Carolina. A source tracking ad buys in early primary states told ABC that the super PAC has purchased nearly $10,000 worth of time on a broadcast station in the Charleston, S.C., area between Jan. 15 and Jan. 19."

However, Huffington Post reports that even a write-in candidacy may be a virtual impossibility for Colbert at this late date. "Unfortunately for Colbert, a presidential run may not be a possibility this late in the game. Colbert missed the Nov. 1 filing deadline to get his name on the GOP primary ballot in South Carolina, and according to the South Carolina Election Commission, there's no write-in space on the electronic and paper primary ballots."

Even if he receives no votes on Jan. 21, Colbert has already succeeded in what Politico calls his "continuing effort to expose what he considers absurdities in U.S. election law."

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com

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