Herman Cain, Stephen Colbert join forces for 'campaign event' in South Carolina

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CHARLESTON, S.C – Comedian Stephen Colbert and ex-GOP candidate Herman Cain joined together for perhaps the most bizarre event of the 2012 election cycle on Friday afternoon.

In front of a crowd of more than 2500 at the campus of the College of Charleston, Colbert combined a mix of insults of the other GOP candidates with an urging of the crowd to vote for Cain, who remains on the ballot for the GOP primary here even though he dropped out last month.

Cain, in his speech following Colbert, then told the crowd not to support him, saying it would be a waste of their votes.

WATCH HERMAN CAIN ON MSNBC DEFEND HIS CAMPAIGN EVENT HERE
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Finally, Cain reintroduced Colbert, who in his ironic television character praised the Citizens United decision that allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns. Many in the crowd, the majority of whom were college students, held up signs protesting that decision and the growth of “Super PAC’s” that is has spawned.

In between their series of speeches, which lasted about 40 minutes in total, the school’s marching band and gospel choir performed. Colbert led the nearly all-black choir in a rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” that the crowd cheered and sang along with. The two men stood in front a huge banner that said “Vote Cain” that included pictures of both Cain and Colbert.

“I want you to vote for Herman Cain, because Herman Cain is me,” Colbert told the crowd, noting his unsuccessful attempt to get on the ballot here. He called Cain “such an outsider he is not even running for president anymore.”

But Cain said, “Stephen Colbert asked you to vote for Herman Cain. 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 at times drifted into his stump speech, praising the Tea Party and declaring “Washington is broken” to a crowd that included many Obama supporters who were largely silent in these moments.

But he also sang, quoted Pokemon generally seemed in on the joke.

“As I said during one of the debates, America needs to learn how to lighten up,” he said.
“I like to have a sense of humor and do events like this.”

Colbert, in his more substantive remarks, repeatedly attacked the Citizens United decision through his humor.

“You can thank the Supreme Court by going into that voting booth and voting for Herman Cain,” He added, “We must stand for our corporate brothers and our limited liability sisters.”

Colbert’s move is not likely to have much effect on the results in tomorrow’s primary. Any registered voter can cast a ballot here, as South Carolina does not limit primaries to members of a particular party, so in theory one could vote for Cain instead of Mitt Romney or other candidates.

In reality, people who vote for Cain on the orders of Colbert are likely to be Democratic-leaning voters who would not have backed any of the GOP hopefuls.

Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr