Colbert says he might run as 'fourth or fifth party' candidate for president

Comedian Stephen Colbert said on Sunday he might continue a run for president even after the South Carolina GOP primary.

On ABC's "This Week," George Stephanopoulos asked Colbert, who is considering a mock run for president, whether he might launch a third party bid if he is unable to compete in the South Carolina primary. 

"I might go as a fourth or fifth party candidate," Colbert said, noting that Donald Trump and Texas Rep. Ron Paul could run as third party candidates.

Colbert, who appeared as his conservative-pundit character, insisted his exploration of a presidential campaign is not a joke.

"It is a real exploratory committee," Colbert said. "As a matter of fact, I will be the first person to actually have committee members on my exploratory committee. We're going to have someone who's good with explosives, we're going to have a guy who's a mountain climber and we're going to have a brain in a jar."

Colbert announced that he would give up control of his super-PAC to explore a presidential run on Thursday night's episode of his Comedy Central show, "The Colbert Report."   

But Matt Moore, executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, said it is too late for Colbert to appear on the state's ballot, and there is no space for write-in candidates.

"He has about as much chance of being elected president in South Carolina as he does of being elected Pope. Zero," Moore said.

"First of all, I'm a Roman Catholic, and I teach Sunday school so I'd say I have a pretty good shot of being Pope," Colbert said during the Sunday interview on ABC. "A better shot than Matt Moore does."

Colbert's super-PAC, which is now run by Jon Stewart, is running an ad in South Carolina that dubs GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney "Mitt the Ripper."

The ad accuses Romney of killing corporations as an executive at Bain Capital, and reasons that since Romney has said corporations are people, he is therefore a serial killer.

Potential candidates are forbidden from coordinating with super-PACs, and Colbert claimed to have nothing to do with the ad.

"I don't know if Mitt Romney is a serial killer. That's a question he's going to have to answer," Colbert said.

Many observers have suggested Colbert's mock run is an attempt to raise awareness about the influence of money in politics, but in a serious interview with The New York Times earlier this month, Colbert insisted the campaign is just for laughs.

On Sunday, Colbert said he isn't worried about money's role in politics. 

"There are $11.2 million in super-PAC ads being run in South Carolina. Super-PACs are outspending the candidates two-to-one in South Carolina right now. That just means according to Citizens United there's just more speech than there was before," Colbert said referring to the Supreme Court ruling that loosened restrictions on corporate campaign spending. "And I don't know about you, but I believe in the freedom of speech."