Stephen Colbert announced last Thursday that he would form an exploratory run for the president in South Carolina. But, much as his real counterparts acted like true candidates long before their campaigns became official, Colbert's faux presidential campaign has begun to follow the lead of the real campaigns. He appeared on ABC's Sunday show The Week yesterday, and his super PAC (now officially controlled by Jon Stewart) has released a negative ad against Mitt Romney.
The ad calls Romney "Mitt the Ripper" for his killing spree against corporations since they are, after all, people. Narrated by John Lithgow, the commercial turns Romney's words against him and ends with an image of Romney superimposed next to a wood chipper that chews up companies taken over by Bain and spits out money on the other side. Colbert himself is not mentioned; instead, the ad urges voters to turn against Romney, showing a sample ballot with the only two options being "Mitt Romney" and "Not Mitt Romney," the frame of reference that is increasingly employed to term the race between the front-runner and everyone else nipping at his heels.
The ad has been making its way around the Internet this weekend but will likely also land on South Carolina TV screens before the primary on Saturday. The Palmetto Public Record reported last week that the super PAC was "negotiating a substantial media buy in the Columbia market."
Mocking the blurred distinctions between candidates and the super PACs supporting them, Colbert claimed to have not seen the ad when George Stephanopoulos aired it during the interview on The Week and expressed uncertainty about pronouncing Stewart's name (he landed on a soft second T). "I can't tell Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow what to do," he said. "It's not my super PAC, George."
That interview was a letdown, though, for those of us hoping to ascertain Colbert's exact plans, as the comedian said he is still solely in the exploratory phase. "When you're exploring, you don't know what you're going to find," he said. And Colbert had no concern for his critics who argue that even the fake nature of his stunt can't go anywhere, since South Carolina does not provide a space for write-in votes. "They say I can't get on the ballot in South Carolina?" he said. "They said you can't go to the moon. They said you can't put cheese inside a pizza crust, but NASA did it."