Stephen Colbert wrote an opinion piece today for The State, the largest newspaper in his native South Carolina, to address rumors he’d attempted to buy the naming rights to his home state’s 2012 Republican primary. In the op-ed, Colbert found a way to rope in Tostitos, the Kardashians, Ronald Reagan, and, of course, the South Carolina Republican Party. He claimed the Party had strongly considered his offer (a fact they have denied) and, in the spirit of Southern chivalry, kept his offer on the table.
Colbert went into the details of the baroque affair (also discussed on Dec. 6’s Colbert Report), in which the state of South Carolina would be on the hook for much of the $400,000 cost of the Republican presidential primary. According to his retelling, he basically haggled with the state’s Republican Party over this ridiculously large private donation under the condition there could be some strings attached: a) naming rights (top choice: “The Colbert Nation Super PAC Presidential Primary”), and/or b) a chance to zing Mitt Romney on a statewide referendum on whether corporations are people.
Ultimately, Colbert admitted he was rejected, though his version of how quickly and definitively he was turned away differs from S.C. Republican executive director Matt Moore, who insists, “Despite our repeatedly saying ‘no,’ Stephen Colbert, the comedian, seems intent on being involved. … The State Party will not be involved with Stephen Colbert going forward.”
It’s not the first stunt like this Colbert has pulled — nor, I’m sure, will it be the last. From trying (unsuccessfully) to run for POTUS in South Carolina’s 2008 Democratic primary to successfully rallying his fans to write in “Colbert” in a NASA spacecraft-naming competition, he’s cast a wide net on intergalactic domination. If the op-ed is any indication, he still thinks he has a shot at his very own namesake Republican primary. At the end of the piece, he invoked fellow actor-turned-politico Ronald Reagan in a populist appeal to his fellow Carolinians: “The counties need the money, and Colbert Super PAC wants to give it to you; call it a Christmas Miracle. I’ve already filled out the check, and to prove it’s no joke, I’ve written ‘No Joke’ in the memo line. I’m going to be home in South Carolina over the holidays, so just give me a call. Both state parties have my contact info. Let’s put this late unpleasantness behind us and, in 2012, hold the greatest primary of all time.”
What do you think, PopWatchers? Is Colbert perpetrating a ridiculous stunt, or vying for legit political clout? Is it crazy for Republicans to have considered Colbert’s offer, or were they being advised by the same folks who hired him once for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner?