"After nearly 15 minutes of soul searching, I have heard the call," Colbert said. "Nation, I will seek the office of the president of the United States. I am doing it!"
After balloons rained down on him, Colbert clarified that he will run in South Carolina only, as both a Democrat and a Republican. "I am from South Carolina, I am for South Carolina, and I defy any other candidate to pander more to the people of South Carolina," he said.
Colbert advised his fans that they would no longer be needing their "Stewart/Colbert 2008" bumper stickers, but that they could still use their "Colbert/Stewart 2008" bumper stickers, provided they cut out Stewart's name with a scissors to make room for a more suitable running mate, such as Mike Huckabee or Vladimir Putin.
Earlier this week, Colbert addressed the possibility of throwing his satirical hat into the ring while guest-writing Maureen Dowd's New York Times column.
"I know why you want me to run, and I hear your clamor," he wrote. "Nevertheless, I am not ready to announce yet — even though it's clear that the voters are desperate for a white, male, middle-aged, Jesus-trumpeting alternative.
"What do I offer? Hope for the common man. Because I am not the Anointed or the Inevitable. I am just an Average Joe like you — if you have a TV show."
Watch videos of Colbert's pre-announcement on The Daily Show, his official announcement on The Colbert Report, and political pundit Jeff Greenfield's analysis of Colbert's impact on the campaign.
• Related: Colbert Report Videos | Daily Show Videos | 2008 Campaign Humor
(Photos by Getty Images & Comedy Central)