NEW YORK >> Stephen Colbert isn’t running for president — at least not yet.
During Thursday night’s episode of "The Colbert Report," Colbert legally transferred his super political action committee to his friend and Comedy Central cohort Jon Stewart. Dropping by from "The Daily Show," Stewart happily signed the documents and accepted the post, which was ceremonially observed by the two holding hands and bodily transferring the PAC powers.
The move potentially paves the way for Colbert to enter the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, his home state. Campaigning politicians are prohibited from simultaneously running super PACs.
But Colbert only hinted at such a decision, which he had grandly hyped ahead of Thursday’s show. In flirting candidate style, he announced that he is forming "an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my possible candidacy for the president of the United States of South Carolina."
Patriotically colored balloons were released in the studio while a graphic screamed "I’m Doing It!"
Stewart and Colbert hashed out the peculiar legalities of their arrangement. With Colbert’s lawyer (and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission) Trevor Potter on hand, they spelled out that while Colbert was legally forbidden from participating in strategy and advertising with the super PAC, he could still talk about his plans on his TV show and even volunteer for the super PAC.
Stewart declared Colbert vice president of youth outreach for the super PAC, which was renamed The Definitely Not Coordinated with Stephen Colbert Super PAC. Along with Potter, the three joined hands like a sports team and — with thick irony — cheered in unison: "Non-coordination!"
In 2007, Colbert attempted to enter the South Carolina primary but was stymied by filing fees. The super PAC could very well eliminate any such financial concerns. Colbert hasn’t publically revealed the amount raised from viewer contributions by the PAC, but on Thursday he repeatedly hinted that it was a shockingly large amount.
Colbert has otherwise been very transparent about the PAC’s workings, using it to parody the current system’s contradictions and potential conflicts of interest. Political action committees stem from a 2010 Supreme Court decision that changed the rules of corporate political donations.
A Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday found that Colbert is polling ahead of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in South Carolina. According to the survey, Colbert has 5 percent of the vote and Huntsman has 4 percent.
Upon reading those results on "The Report" on Wednesday, Colbert said: "This just got real."