Stephen Colbert almost bought naming rights to South Carolina GOP primary(Read article summary)
Along with naming rights, Stephen Colbert wants to place a referendum on the South Carolina GOP primary ballot asking voters to decide if 'corporations are people,' or if 'only people are people.'
Comedian Stephen Colbert just canâ€™t keep away from mixing it up with presidential politics in his home state of South Carolina. After a failed attempt to enter the 2008 GOP primary there, he's at it again.
This time, he began with an audacious bid to rename the January GOP primary after his super PAC, Making a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.Â In exchange for a donation, the primaryâ€™s proposed new tag would have been, â€śThe Colbert Nation Super PAC Presidential Primary.â€ť
He also wanted to place a referendum on the ballot, asking voters to decide if â€ścorporations are people,â€ť or if â€śonly people are people.â€ťÂ
The GOP ultimately turned down Colbert's naming-rights offer and the state Supreme Court ruled there could be no referendum on the ballot, leading Mr. Colbert to appeal to the South Carolina Democratic party for help.Â
The possibility that the primary might have been up for sale is leading some Republicans to shake their heads in dismay.Â
â€śWhat were they thinking?â€ť says Atlanta-based Republican strategist David Johnson.â€śThey were clearly dazzled by the potential donation and now they have egg all over their face.â€ť He says theyÂ ought to have known better, notingÂ that the comedy card must be played very carefully.
â€śLeno and Letterman are one thing. They are basically a talk show and if youÂ go along with them they are pretty much a softball.â€ť Mr. Johnson says. But cable hosts are a different matter, with fewer restrictions for on-air content.
â€śYou get down in the mud with Colbert and you will have mud all over yourself,â€ť he says.
But South Carolina Republican Party executive director Matt Moore says the comedy host was very respectful when he made the initial overture back in September. â€śHe promised not to lampoon us or make the party look bad in any way,â€ť he says. He made it clear that his interest was in bringing attention to a cause that is close to his heart â€“ namely, the influence of corporate money in politics.â€ťÂ Â
Party officials weigh serious donor offers carefully, balancing the risks and rewards,Â says Mr. Moore. â€śWe are interested in reaching out to aÂ younger demographic, and Stephen Colbert clearly appeals to that group.â€ť Â
In the end,Â the offer was turned down, in part he says, because â€śwe were afraid of opening a Pandoraâ€™s Box if we allowed the primary to be renamed.â€ť Beyond that, â€śwe were not certain if it might even lead to theÂ primary being declared invalid.â€ť
According to Colbertâ€™s super PAC website, the comedy host is still pursuing the possibilitiy that his question about corporations versus people might still make it onto the January ballot. He has requested the South Carolina Democratic party appeal to the Supreme court to reverse its position. "Trust me, this was a measure of last resort,â€ť he says in a statement.
Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party RichardÂ Harpootlian has filed a rehearing to get the referendums put back on the Republican Primary ballot, according to Democratic party spokesperson, Amanda Loveday. Even if it doesn't get on the ballot, she notes, the question may get out to some voters because â€śsome of the absentee and military ballots already have been printed and have the question on them.â€ťÂ