As Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich continue to lob political grenades at each other in South Carolina, the Public Polling Project announced that a surprise candidate is making a dent against GOP rivals.
Stephen Colbert, late night host of The Colbert Report and native of the Palmetto State, is sitting at a healthy 5-percent of the expected vote in South Carolina, according to the poll. That puts Colbert, who is currently not running for president, ahead of Jon Huntsman who's polling at about 4 percent.
In response to the favorable showing in the polls, Colbert announced last night on his show that he will make a 'very important announcement' Thursday about a potential run for the Republican nomination. "How can I ever compete with an established candidate like Jon Huntsman?" Colbert asked his wildly cheering audience. "Wait, wait, wait, that's crazy! These guys have been running for a year now."
If he does make a bid for the 2012 Republican nomination, it would not be the first time he tried to enter politics for real. In 2008, Colbert's application to enter the Democratic presidential primary race in South Carolina was rejected.
"The general sense of the council was that he wasn't a serious candidate and that was why he wasn't selected to be on the ballot," a South Carolina Democratic party official told Politico .
But Colbert was taken seriously two years later when California Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren invited him to describe his participation in the United Farm Workers' "Take Our Jobs" program before Congress. In a rare public break from his satirical TV persona, Colbert explained, "I like talking about people who don't have any power, and this seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work, but don't have any rights as a result."
More recently, Colbert started a Super PAC dubbed "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow." Its first ad asked Iowans to write in "Rick Parry" instead of Rick Perry in the Ames Straw Poll, contending that the "a" stood for "America."
When the Republican Party in South Carolina was having trouble funding its primary, Colbert offered the party $500,000 from his Super PAC with the caveat that the primary's name be changed to "The Colbert Super PAC South Carolina Primary."
"I've already filled out the check, and to prove it's no joke, I've written 'No Joke' in the memo line," Colbert wrote to the party.
Colbert is a registered Democrat.