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Late-night comedian uses presidential bid as educational performance

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Stephen Colbert and Herman Cain greet supporters at the "Rock Me Like a Herman Cain: South Cain-olina Primary Rally." Organizers put it together in just three days. (Source: POOL/CNN) Stephen Colbert and Herman Cain greet supporters at the "Rock Me Like a Herman Cain: South Cain-olina Primary Rally." Organizers put it together in just three days. (Source: POOL/CNN)

(RNN) - With Republican candidates vying for the coveted presidential nomination in South Carolina on Saturday, the real entertainment may come from an unlikely comedic duo pairing up to take on the election system.

Stephen Colbert announced last week his intentions to run for the "President of the United States of South Carolina," in what has become a satirical and educational exploration of election campaign fundraising, and the role Super PACs play in elections.

He organized a rally at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC, called the "Rock Me Like a Herman Cain: South Cain-olina Primary Rally," and teamed up with former presidential candidate Herman Cain to both gain support and spread his message about the election process.

Super PACs allow unlimited contributions to election campaign funds in the name of a candidate, as long as the candidate does not coordinate with them in any way. Colbert began his own Super PAC last year, took money from his viewers and then transferred the funds over to long-time comedy partner John Stewart when he announced his run in South Carolina.

Super PACs have become a point of contention for critics of a controversial 2008 decision by the Supreme Court - Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The decision ruled that since corporations and other organizations are made up of people, and people have the right to donate to political candidates and participate in political speech, then corporations and organizations also have the same political rights.

Since the decision, various groups have protested the decision, and Colbert made it a primary focus in his late-night routine. It was a point of focus in his rally too, in which he called voters to turn out and mark their ballots for Cain.

"Herman Cain is my main man," he said in an appearance on Morning Joe Friday. "He's my main man with a tax plan so fine, they called it 9-9-9. The Mad Max of the flat tax. Herman Cain has qualities that I admire - he's a family man, he's pro-business and he has something I don't think I'll ever have - a place on the South Carolina ballot."

Colbert was about two-and-a-half months too late to file for a spot on the ballot for the presidential primaries, so he's encouraging voters to vote for Cain, who was unable to remove his name after withdrawing from the race last month.

"I want you to vote for Herman Cain because Herman Cain is me," Colbert said at the rally in Charleston. 

Cain had a sense of humor throughout the rally, but spoke of the importance of being involved in the political process and changing Washington through a "new revolution."

"The big difference from that revolution and this revolution, and let me be perfectly clear - that revolution was about bombs and bullets. This revolution is about brains and balance at the ballot box," Cain said.

He told the rally not to vote for him - a sentiment Colbert didn't argue against in his speech afterward.

"I am going to ask you to not vote for Herman Cain, and here's why - I don't want you to waste your vote," Cain said.

Cain ended his part on a light note, singing a few verses from The Power of One, a song by Donna Summer that appeared in Pokémon: The Movie 2000 and the song from where he drew the closing remarks of his campaign.

But Colbert continued with the point of the rally, the controversial Citizens United decision and likened himself to the "Martin Luther King of corporate rights."

"Eyes on the prize, enter the octagon," Colbert told the rally. "We must stand for our limited brothers and their limited responsibilities. We must stand because they have no legs."

It was no coincidence that the rally was held on the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, which was celebrated by protests nationwide at court houses. The group Move to Amend, which called for protesters to occupy courts, is pushing for a constitutional amendment to state that corporations are not people.

"We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are person entitled to constitutional rights," the group said on their website.

How much of an effect Colbert's efforts will have remains to be seen. As the primary results draw to a close, a vote for Cain could be considered support for Colbert's message.

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