Colbert Abandons Presidential Bid

After South Carolina Democrats refuse him on the ballot, Colbert drops '08 bid.


Nov. 5, 2007 — -- Comedian Stephen Colbert's White House bid seemed to end even before it began.

Last week, the South Carolina Democratic Executive Council rejected Colbert's application to be on the primary ballot in a 13-3 vote; Colbert did not apply to appear on the state GOP primary ballot — with its $35,000 filing fee.

In a statement today, Colbert said, "Although I lost by the slimmest margin in presidential election history — only 10 votes — I have chosen not to put the country through another agonizing Supreme Court battle. It is time for the nation to heal."

Colbert, who was raised on James Island in Charleston, S.C., filed his application last week with the state Democrats and paid the $2,500 filing fee before the noon deadline. After 30 to 45 minutes of debate and discussion, the council decided to reject his application. His check will be refunded.

Joe Werner, executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said that "the council members had some concerns about his viability as a candidate." Werner said that state party rules require candidates to be viable and nationally recognized in order to appear on the ballot.

Because Colbert was only campaigning in South Carolina — and was running as both a Democrat and a Republican — council members ruled he was not viable, Werner said.

Those appearing on the Democratic ballot will be: Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

And what would Werner say to any critics who argue Colbert is more viable than, say, Gravel?

"I don't disagree," Werner said. "Or others." Werner emphasized that "it wasn't my decision, I'm not a council member. I can't justify to you their reasoning. They're saying Gravel is campaigning in more than one state, and Gravel is seeking to be only on one party's ballot."

The state Democratic Party's council comprises 20 members, elected at the state party's convention. Two members come from each of the state's six congressional districts, as well as party officers, and Democratic National Committee members.

The Palmetto State GOP seems to have an easier — if pricier — selection process than the Democrats.

"Anyone who meets the requirements is on the ballot," said state GOP communications director Rob Godfrey. "Anybody who meets the constitutional requirements, Federal Election Commission requirements, has filed appropriate paperwork and pays the $35,000 fee gets on the ballot."

But Colbert did not submit his application.

On the GOP state ballot will be former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

Also on the GOP ballot will be three somewhat fringe GOP candidates: Dr. Hugh Cort, John Cox and Cap Fendig.

South Carolina Republican Party chairman Katon Dawson had kind words for Colbert. "I think he's a tremendous TV personality. He has a big following," Dawson said. "That being said, he's a TV personality."

It was remarked that some see Thompson, the erstwhile co-star of NBC's "Law & Order," as a TV personality as well.

"Oh he is, he is," said Dawson. "So is Arnold Schwarzenegger, but they're also politicians."

The host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" appeared this weekend at the University of South Carolina in the capital of Columbia, where he was given a hero's welcome. The mayor declared him the state's "favorite son" and he received a key to the city.

"I promise, if elected, I will crush the state of Georgia," Colbert told the crowd. "Our peaches are more numerous than Georgia's. They are more juiciful."

Colbert's coverage of his campaign was sponsored by Doritos.

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