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Colbert: 'I've just started exploring' primary bid

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 12:03 PM EST, Sun January 15, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Colbert to naysayers: "They said you can't go to the moon"
  • The comedian says he's still exploring whether to run
  • It's too late for him to be on the ballot, and state law prohibits write-in candidates
  • Some Republican officials in South Carolina aren't laughing at Colbert's move

(CNN) -- Stephen Colbert says he won't be stopped by officials saying it's too late for him to run in South Carolina's presidential primary.

"They said you can't go to the moon. They said you can't put cheese inside a pizza crust, but NASA did it. They had to, because the cheese kept floating off in space," Colbert told ABC's "This Week" Sunday.

The comedian, who announced plans to form an exploratory committee last week, said he still hadn't decided whether he wanted to run.

"I can't tell you what I've found yet, because I've just started exploring. ... I haven't even gotten on the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria yet. ... Let me find the spice routes and then come back, please," he said.

The South Carolina primary is Saturday. The comedian missed the November 1 filing deadline to get his name on the GOP primary ballot. And state law prohibits write-in candidates in primaries, a state election commission spokesman told CNN.

Colbert filed to run for the White House as a Democrat in 2007, but his presidential bid ended when South Carolina's Democratic Party removed him from the state's 2008 primary ballot.

This time around, fans who support the comedian's satirical take on partisan politics have donated to a PAC he founded, "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow," which was granted legal status by the Federal Election Commission in June.

But some Republican officials in South Carolina aren't laughing.

"The gag is worn out," state GOP spokesman Matt Moore said in a statement to ABC News.

"Stephen Colbert has about as much a chance at being elected president in South Carolina as he does of being elected pope. Zero," the statement said.

Colbert fired back in his interview with "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos Sunday.

"First of all, I'm a Roman Catholic, and I teach Sunday school," he said. "So I'd say I have a pretty good shot at being pope, a better shot than Matt Moore does down in South Carolina. ... I have an exploratory committee to be pope, now, George. And that's after I have my exploratory committee to be president."

Fellow Comedy Central funnyman Jon Stewart took over Colbert's PAC after Colbert announced his exploratory committee, renaming it the "Definitely Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert Super PAC."

A video posted on the group's website shows a clip of Republican candidate Mitt Romney saying he believes "corporations are people." The video claims Romney carved up corporations when he worked at Bain Capital.

"If Mitt Romney really believes 'corporations are people, my friend,' then Mitt Romney is a serial killer. He's Mitt the Ripper," the ad says.

Colbert said Sunday that he was not connected to the ad.

"If any of these ads are inaccurate, if any of these ads cause trouble, that's Jon Stewart actually trying to undermine my exploratory committee," he said.

CNN's Shawna Shepherd, Ashley Killough, Kevin Liptak, and Julian Cummings contributed to this report.

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