Presidential Parody? Stephen Colbert Joins the Race

Late-night comedian Stephen Colbert announces his candidacy.

ByABC News
February 6, 2009, 8:35 PM

Oct. 17, 2007 — -- There are two Stephen Colberts.

There's the real Stephen Colbert, a comedian and churchgoing dad, a nice guy. But there's also "Stephen Colbert," the pundit who hosts Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," a basic-cable blowhard whom Colbert once described as a "well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot."

It's not always easy to tell them apart, just as it's not easy to distinguish between the real world of politics and the parallel comedy universe where "Stephen Colbert" is a serious pundit and politicos traverse to prove their hipness, show their lighter sides and occasionally declare their candidacies for major office.

In that vein, "Stephen Colbert" Tuesday night declared his candidacy for president of the United States.

"I have heard the call," Colbert said. "Nation, I shall seek the office of the president of the United States."

You may not be surprised that Colbert has a new book out to sell, "I Am America (And So Can You!)" That coincidental product placement puts him in the same category as other president flirts such as Colin Powell and Al Gore.

But to his credit, or discredit, Colbert is taking his plug-man-ship even further. Both Colberts' real and fictitious personas having been raised in South Carolina, Colbert's minions have already pursued the proper paperwork for him to try to run in both the Democratic and Republican presidency primaries in January 2008.

"I am from South Carolina and I am for South Carolina and I defy any other candidate to pander more to the people of South Carolina, those beautiful, beautiful people," he said on "The Colbert Report."

In South Carolina today, presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a staple on "Comedy Central," responded to Colbert's announcement.

"Hope he joins us for the debates. He can make them livelier and he can reach a wider audience than that narrow little sliver that watches his show," McCain told ABC News.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for whom South Carolina is a crucial state, responded to ABC News in California.