Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
UPDATE: Looks like Stephen Colbert didn't have any more luck aboard the Herman Cain train than its namesake.
The late-night comedian announced on Monday night's show that his short-lived flirtation with running for the Republican presidential nomination has come to an end. "I urged South Carolinians to vote for me by voting for Herman Cain. And when all the votes were counted, we came in number one – percent!” Colbert told his fans, referencing the lackluster Colbert-as-Cain vote tally from Saturday's primary.
"It is with a heavy heart and a spastic colon that I’m re-suspending Herman Cain’s suspended campaign," Colbert told his audience. "Also, I’m hereby officially ending my exploratory committee to run for the president of the United States of South Carolina."
Thursday, Jan. 19: The Herman Cain train, now being driven by Stephen Colbert, will make a stop in Charleston, S.C., for a campaign rally on Friday, one day before residents head to the polls for the first-in-the-South GOP primary.
The late-night comedian teased the campaign rally on his show Wednesday, but Charleston's Post and Courier has confirmed the scheduling details.
Both Colbert, who is exploring a run for "president of the United States of South Carolina," and Cain, who officially suspended his campaign earlier this year after battling allegations of sexual misconduct, are expected to be on hand at the College of Charleston at 1 p.m for the rally. The event opens at noon for those wanting to show up early and snag the best seats.
Cain is in on the joke. "I find it very clever and humorous, as it should be," he told Fox News. "Anyone who finds what Mr. Colbert is doing offensive, should simply lighten up. To be perfectly clear, I will not be assuming Stephen Colbert's identity. We are very different when it comes to the color of our – hair."
Colbert has dubbed the whole thing the "Rock Me Like a Herman Cain South Cain-olina Primary Rally." The Colbert Report host has promised quite a show, including speeches, cheerleaders, a marching band and a gospel choir.
Tuesday, Jan. 17: Stephen Colbert may not be on the ballot for the South Carolina primary, but, guess who is? Herman Cain. Looks like Colbert has found a vacancy.
In a new ad from the Definitely Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert Super PAC, Colbert supporters are urged to vote for Herman Cain, described as "such a Washington outsider he's not even running for president." The ad went live Tuesday, and is posted on the Super PAC's website.
As Politico explains, Colbert's backers had been left without a way to cast their votes for the Comedy Central star because not only had he missed the filing deadline to get his name listed, the Palmetto State primary ballots don't leave room for write-in candidates. Cain's name, however, is still on the South Carolina ballot because he filed in the state before dropping out of the race.
Friday, Jan. 13: And he's in.
Stephen Colbert announced on his show Thursday night that he will campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in South Carolina or, as the New York Times rightfully puts it, "at least pretend to."
The late-night comedian said that he'll form an "exploratory committee for president of the United States of South Carolina." While it's too late for him to make his way onto the GOP ballot in his home state, that won't stop him from waging a write-in campaign that, among other things, will only ramp up his ongoing mockery of election finance laws that allow for the existence of so-called Super PACS.
In order to make the move legal, Colbert announced that he'd hand control of his own Super PAC over to fellow Comedy Central star Jon Stewart. A Super PAC can't officially coordinate with the candidate it's supporting, an ambiguous technicality that the two highlighted with this exchange.
Colbert: "From now on, I will have to talk about my plans on my TV show."
Stewart: "I don't even know when it's on."
While it is easy to laugh off Colbert's announcement as nothing more than a publicity stunt, his now GOP rivals may want to tread carefully. ABC News reports that Colbert's group has already purchased nearly $10,000 worth of airtime in Charleston in the lead up to the first-in-the-South primary and, according to the Palmetto Public Record, the PAC is also "negotiating a substantial media buy in the Columbia market."
Thursday, Jan. 12: Now this would be a true test of the power of the Colbert bump.
Late-night comedian Stephen Colbert hinted Wednesday night that he may soon announce he'll compete in the upcoming South Carolina GOP presidential primary.
After touting his recent poll numbers that have him ahead of Jon Huntsman during Wednesday night's show, the Comedy Central star promised that he'll have a "major announcement" for viewers on Thursday. "This just got real," he said. "I’ve got to ask, what do you think, nation? Should I run for president in South Carolina?"
Colbert continued: "Everyone in the Republican field has already had their 'I’m not Mitt' moment. It all makes so much sense. I am so not Mitt. I’m the one with the glasses."
Of course, it is too late for the Comedy Central star to make his way onto the Republican ballot in his home state. Matt Moore, the executive director of the Palmetto State's GOP party, told ABC News that Colbert's chances of waging a successful write-in campaign are "nonexistent" but said that nevertheless he's welcome to try.
Tuesday, Jan. 10: Stephen Colbert hasn't had any luck in his bid to sponsor the South Carolina GOP primary, but a leading Democratic polling firm went ahead and gave him a consolation prize.
Public Policy Polling added the Comedy Central star's name to its latest survey of likely Palmetto State primary voters. The results: Colbert comes in 6th in the GOP field with 5 percent, behind Mitt Romney (27 percent), Newt Gingrich (23), Rick Santorum (18), Ron Paul (8) and Rick Perry (7). The comedian did, however, fare better than both Jon Huntsman (4 percent) and Buddy Roemer (1 percent), although we're guessing that the gap between Colbert and Huntsman falls within the survey's margin of error. Still, it isn't exactly good news for the former Utah governor's White House aspirations.
As the PPP pollsters explain: "Even if Huntsman finishes second in New Hampshire tonight it doesn't speak well for his prospects down the line that he's running behind Stephen Colbert."
Colbert, of course, is not on the Palmetto State ballot, so the poll does little more than add a much-needed dash of humor to the GOP campaign. Still, we love political hypotheticals as much as the next guy, so here's a few more numbers from the PPP survey that don't exactly come as a shocker: Among Democratic voters who plan on voting in the GOP primary (as they are allowed to do in the state's open contest), 34 percent said they'd support Colbert if he was on the ballot, only four percent less than the combined total percent of voters who say they back Romney (15), Gingrich (13) and Santorum (10).
(Of course, we're guessing that at least a chunk of those Democratic respondents may have been having a little fun with an obviously hypothetical question.)
PPP says that leads to a "serious question" (we say it leads to a "question"): If Colbert had found his way onto the ballot would enough Dems have turned out to put him in the top-tier of GOP candidates? "My guess," writes the unnamed PPP pollster who blogged about the survey, "is if he'd really put some effort into it he could have won 10-15% of the vote and nabbed himself a 4th place finish there."
The PPP survey does have one other nugget with a little more weight, however. The pollsters asked South Carolina voters about the non-binding "corporate personhood" referendum Colbert hoped to land on the ballot that would ask voters whether "corporations are people" or "only people are people." Only a third of likely voters said they think "corporations are people" compared to two thirds who think that "only people are people." Further, a majority of supporters of every GOP candidate -- including Mitt Romney -- say that they believe that "only people are people."
Full PPP numbers here. (Usual PPP disclaimer: It is a Dem-affiliated firm, but its numbers traditionally fall in line with most other major pollsters.)