S.C. Democratic Party Rejects Colbert's '08 Bid

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: The presidential candidacy of comedian Stephen Colbert seemed to be on shaky ground Thursday afternoon.

Minutes after applying to appear on the South Carolina Democratic primary ballot, his application was rejected.

Colbert, who was raised on James Island in Charleston, S.C., filed his application and paid the $2,500 filing fee before the noon deadline. But the South Carolina Democratic Party executive council met and after 30-45 minutes of debate and discussion decided to reject his application.

Joe Werner, executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party said that "the council members had some concerns about his viability as a candidate." Werner said that state party rules require candidates to be viable and nationally -recognizeds in order to appear on the ballot.

Since Colbert was only campaigning in South Carolina -- and was running as both a Democrat and a Republican -- council members ruled he was not viable, Werner said.

Those appearing on the Democratic ballot will be: Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. 

And what would Werner say to any critics who argue Colbert is more viable than, say, Mike Gravel?

"I don't disagree," Werner said. "Or others." Werner emphasized that "it wasn't my decision, I'm not a council member. I can't justify to you their reasoning. They're saying Gravel is campaigning in more than one state, and Gravel is seeking to be only on one party's ballot."

The state Democratic party's council is comprised of 20 members, elected at the state party's convention. Two members come from each of the state's six congressional districts, as well as party officers, DNC members.

Since Colbert has vowed to run in both the Democratic and the Republican primaries in January 2008, one option still remained as of Thursday afternoon. The deadline for the South Carolina Republican primary is at 5 o'clock this afternoon. But as of 4:44 pm EST, the party had not received Colbert's application.

The Palmetto State GOP seems to have an easier -- if pricier -- selection process than the Democrats.

"Anyone who meets the requirements is on the ballot," said state GOP communications director Rob Godfrey. "Anybody who meets the constitutional requirements, FEC requirements, has filed appropriate paperwork and pays the $35,000 fee gets on the ballot."

"The day is young, it's still light outside," said GOP state chairman Katon Dawson. "I think he's a tremendous TV personality, he has a big following. That being said, he's a TV personality."

It was remarked that some see former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., the erstwhile co-star of NBC's "Law & Order" as a TV personality as well.

"Oh he is, he is," said Dawson. "So is Arnold Schwarzenegger. But they're also politicians."

A spokeswoman for Mr. Colbert, 43, had no comment. Colbert's candidacy was to be limited to the South Carolina primaries.

The host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" appeared over the weekend at the University of South Carolina in the capital of Columbia, where he was given a hero's welcome. The mayor declared him the state's "favorite son" and he received a key to the city.

"I promise, if elected, I will crush the state of Georgia," Colbert told the crowd. "Our peaches are more numerous than Georgia's. They are more juiciful."

Colbert's coverage of his campaign is sponsored by Doritos.

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