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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    An Unlikely Candidate Spices Up the 2008 Race

    The 2008 Presidential season has been in full swing for close to a year now. Already, five people have entered and exited the race, tying a record for a single election cycle. But for one unexpected entrant, the world of politics, especially presidential politics, is extremely new.

    It was on his television program “The Colbert Report” that the host Stephen Colbert announced he would be running in the South Carolina presidential primary election, as both a Republican and a Democratic candidate.

    “I AM DOING IT!” Colbert proclaimed, to wild cheering from the studio audience and a nearly instantaneous mobilization of what has come to be known as “Colbert Nation.”

    The Facebook group “1,000,000 Strong For Stephen T. Colbert” was created just hours after the announcement on the Oct. 16 show. The episodes end at midnight, and the group was created just after 2:00 AM.

    Following the announcement, the media went into a dither. Most analysts believe that the move was just a promotional tool to boost the sales of his book “I Am America (And So Can You!),” which debuted atop the New York Times bestsellers list. But others are taking Colbert’s run seriously, including Stephen Colbert.

    According to The New York Times, the staff of “The Colbert Report” approached the committees of both the Democratic and Republican parties in South Carolina about his plans, and to alert them of his intention of running on both party ballots. Such a move is allowed in South Carolina, so long as the candidate meets the requirements of both parties and gets approval from both committees for such a move.

    Executive director of the state’s Democratic Party, Joe Werner, told The New York Times that he would “have a hard time not putting him on the ballot” should he choose to move forward with his plans, but only if he ran strictly as a Democrat.

    In order to be placed on the ballot as a Democratic candidate, Colbert would have to pay a $2,500 filing fee or collect 3,000 signatures. The Republican requirements are a $35,000 fee according to Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, with no option for a fee waiver. Neither Mr. Dawson nor Mr. Werner were too keen on the idea of Colbert running on both tickets.

    Even though many questions surround his bid for the presidency, the support of Colbert has been overwhelming. Months before Colbert even announced his presidential intentions, entrepreneurial students nationwide created a stockpile of “Stewart/Colbert 2008” memorabilia, including t-shirts, bumper stickers and official petitions in the hopes of talking at least one of the comedians into running.

    Facebook has been one of the most telling signs of support. Senator Barack Obama (D – Ill.) has been regarded as the most “user-friendly” candidate, attracting huge numbers of students online on sites like Facebook.

    But in comparison, Obama could only hope for the same turnout that Colbert enjoys. In 283 days, the group “1,000,000 Strong for Barack Obama” has attracted roughly 350,000 people. Colbert’s group reached that number in four days, and after just 10 days, that number reached the 1,000,000 mark.

    The growth was so enormous at one point that a Facebook server crashed for several hours. Based on an unscientific test, the group was growing at an average of about seven new members per second at its peak.

    So what are Colbert’s chances? While support may be widespread, it would be almost impossible for Colbert to even make it to the general election. But Colbert’s goal is not to make it to the White House anyway. “All I need is enough votes?to get one delegate and I’ll feel like I’ve won,” he said on “Meet The Press.”

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