Comedian Stephen Colbert says he's launched an exploratory committee into whether to run for U.S. president, appearing in character on a current affairs show on Sunday to poke straight-faced, satirical fun at the wacky Republican presidential race.
"It is a real exploratory committee ... finding out whether there is a hunger for a Stephen Colbert campaign right now," Colbert told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week, adding that those on the committee include a mountain-climber, "someone who is good with explosives" and a "brain in a jar."
"I am exploring right now — I am a one-man Lewis and Clark," he said, adding he was also pondering running for Pope.
He scoffed at the insistence from South Carolina officials that it's too late for his name to appear on the ballot in time for Saturday's state primary.
"They said you can't go to the moon, they said you can't put cheese inside a pizza crust — but NASA did it; they had to because the cheese kept on floating off into space," he said.
Forms Super PAC
For months, Colbert has been ironically ridiculing the country's political system, taking particular delight in forming a so-called Super PAC, a political action committee supposedly separate from the candidate it backs.
Super PACs can raise limitless funds from corporations, unions and other groups and were made possible by a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision that was maligned for essentially giving wealthy American companies and individuals the green light to finance political campaigns.
With great fanfare, Colbert handed his Super PAC over to Jon Stewart of The Daily Show late last week, freeing him up to run for "president of the United States of South Carolina." The committee is now called The Definitely Not Co-ordinated With Stephen Colbert Super PAC.
Colbert said Sunday that handing over the reins to Stewart was painful, although in the next breath he denied any connection to it.
"That's my baby. Do you know how hard it is to give away a baby? Now imagine if that baby had a whole lot of money," he said.
Just as authentic candidates in the race have been doing for weeks, Colbert then insisted he had no ties to the Super PAC, no awareness of its new attack ad comparing front-runner Mitt Romney to a serial killer, and no relationship to Stewart.
"I am not familiar with him," Colbert said before maligning his partner in comedy as a liberal "loose cannon."
Both Romney and Newt Gingrich, at various junctures in the presidential race, have claimed not to have seen attack ads put out by their Super PACs and denied any knowledge of their tactics. In a New Hampshire debate, Romney famously denied seeing one Iowa commercial that had infuriated Gingrich, then proceeded to recite in great detail the contents of the ad while defending its accuracy.
"I am disavowing anything that Jon Stewart does that is not accurate," Colbert said, an almost direct parroting of Gingrich's statements over the past few days about factual errors in a 28-minute attack ad about Romney's past as the head of a private equity firm.
Colbert's Super PAC may be aimed at tweaking the political establishment, but it's actually pouring money into ads that have already started appearing in South Carolina, where the comic was raised. Colbert also finished ahead of Jon Huntsman in a Public Policy Polling survey conducted in the state last week.
In an obvious poke at "When Mitt Romney Came To Town" — the controversial spot put out by Gingrich supporters last week — Colbert's Super PAC released an ad Sunday called "Mitt The Ripper."
Making reference to Romney's "corporations are people" line during a campaign stop last summer, narrator John Lithgow intones: "If Mitt Romney really believes 'corporations are people, my friends,' then Mitt Romney is a serial killer."
"Stop Mitt the Ripper before he kills again," he adds.