Posted at 10:07 AM ET, 01/13/2012

Stephen Colbert hands super PAC to Jon Stewart, will run for president... of South Carolina

Stephen Colbert is exploring a run for president of the United States ... of South Carolina.

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The comedian and Charleston native announced on his show Thursday night that he is forming an exploratory committee and is handing over control of his super PAC to fellow “Comedy Central” host Jon Stewart.

The name of the new organization?

“The Definitely Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert Super PAC.”

Colbert’s move comes days after a poll by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, which conducts automated surveys, showed him taking five percent support in South Carolina That’s one percentage point higher than that for former Utah governor Jon Huntsman (R), whose name, unlike Colbert’s, will be among those appearing on the state’s Jan. 21 GOP primary ballot.

It also comes weeks after Colbert made an unsuccessful attempt through his super PAC to fund the South Carolina Republican primary. He had offered $400,000 in exchange for a deal that would have renamed the contest “The Colbert Super PAC South Carolina Republican Primary,” a proposal that state GOP officials ultimately rejected.

Colbert’s his super PAC was approved by the Federal Election Commission in June. But the comedy host missed the deadline for qualifying for the ballot, and South Carolina election rules do not allow write-in votes in party primaries or in the presidential and vice presidential races.

As Colbert announced to viewers Thursday night:

“For over a day now, the people of South Carolina have been crying out for someone who can restore our nation’s former greatness to its current perfection. Well, America, that someone is now. I am proud to announce that I am forming an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my possible candidacy for the president of the United States of South Carolina. I’m doing it!”

“And with your help, and possibly the help of some sort of outside group that I am not coordinating with, we can explore taking this country back. Thank you! God bless you all! And God bless Citizens United!”

Citizens United, of course, is the 2010 Supreme Court decision that paved the way for the formation of super PACs, the “independent expenditure-only committees” that can accept donations of unlimited size but are prohibited from directly coordinating with political parties or candidates.

So far, those committees have been responsible for nearly half of all TV ad spending for the 2012 presidential cycle.

With names such as “Make Us Great Again,” “Restore Our Future” and “Priorities USA,” most super PACs give little outward indication as to which candidate’s campaign they’re supporting.

For a test of your super PAC knowledge, take our quiz, and see if you can match up the name of the group to the candidate it supports. (As of press time, the Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC had yet to be added.)

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By  |  10:07 AM ET, 01/13/2012

 
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