Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert says "Vote for Herman Cain!" Image: MHimmelrich/Flickr/CC BY-ND

Two men will become one at a South Carolina rally Friday. One of them is examining the feasibility of a presidential bid. The other has dismantled his campaign, despite still being on the ballot. Together, they want to convince voters that Stephen Colbert and Herman Cain are one and the same.

‘The Rock Me Like a Herman Cain’ rally

Colbert, a South Carolina native and the host of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” has said he would like to explore the possibility of a bid for the Republican presidential nomination. However, he was too late to get on the ballot in South Carolina. Friday at 1 p.m. — one day before the primary begins — Colbert will stage the “The Rock Me Like a Herman Cain” rally at the College of Charleston. At the rally, he and Cain himself will be urging voters that a vote for Cain is a clear sign that there is a “hunger for a Stephen Colbert campaign.”

Colbert said:

“How much more of an outsider can you be? He’s not even running.”

‘Hunger’ for Colbert?

A Marist poll on Thursday showed there is some “hunger” for a Colbert campaign in South Carolina. About 18 percent of potential Republican primary voters said they were somewhat likely to vote for Colbert. More than half also said there was no possibility they would vote for him.

Cain in on the joke

Herman Cain, however, seems to be laughing along. He told Fox News:

“On Stephen Colbert’s endorsement of himself as Herman Cain, I find it very clever and humorous, as it should be. 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.”

(Fund) Raising Cain

The poll, and several South Carolina television ads, were sponsored by the Super PAC Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow group. One of the TV spots urges viewers to vote for Cain but shows the image of Colbert instead.

Campaign financing spotlighted

Colbert started his Super PAC in June and handed the reins over to fellow Comedy Central host John Stewart last week. Both Colbert’s show and Stewart’s “The Daily Show” have gotten considerable mileage out of the Super PAC, using it as a springboard to parody and bring attention to new campaign financing laws. The comedians are suggesting that the new laws allow Super PACs to raise unlimited funds and disperse them with very little disclosure.

Mark Tompkins, an associate political science professor at the University of South Carolina, said:

“On the one hand he’s just having a good time, but on the other he’s engaged in pretty serious satire of the state of campaign finance. It’s more than just fun.”


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