Gay. Republican. President?

Fred Karger is a Republican political consultant, gay rights activist, and potential 2012 presidential candidate. Karger's corporate political career has spanned three decades and has included work on nine presidential campaigns. Most notably, Karger served as senior campaign adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Gerald Ford. 

In 2006 Karger founded Save the Boom!!!, a grassroots campaign to save the oldest gay bar in the Western United States, the landmark Boom Boom Room and Coast Inn in Laguna Beach, California. Save the Boom!!! motivated Karger to more actively pursue his interest in LGBT politics. Soon after, Karger started Californians Against Hate, an organization devoted to bringing public attention to the Proposition 8 campaign.

He is the first openly gay candidate ever to run for the U.S. presidency. 

  • Transcript


Question: How do you anticipate Americans will react if your campaign picks
up speed?

Fred Karger: Well, you know, President Carter said on this very site that he thinks America is ready for a gay president. Polls have shown that. There is a Vanity Fair/CBS poll that showed over 50% of the public supports the concept of an openly gay President. We’ve certainly, you know, emerged as a political force in this country, you’re seeing a lot of attention to the issues. We’ve just passed “Don’t Ask, Don’t’ Tell” repeal. And so I think the timing is absolutely perfect. I think the fact that I am an outsider; that I’ve been in the political process for over 30 years; I’ve worked on nine presidential campaigns. I’ve been very high level at three. I think that shows the public is ready. And my experience, particularly on the political side of things, but as a Washington outsider would be unique and will be welcomed.

Question: If you officially declare that you’re running, how will right-leaning talk show hosts like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh react?

Fred Karger: Well, I'm not so sure how some of the far right-wing people will react to my candidacy. I'm considering myself an independent Republican. I'm more progressive, particularly on some of the social issues than anybody else considering running. So there might be some opposition. I actually faced my first bit of hatred when I was in Iowa in May. I had a reception there, as I had done in New Hampshire many times, this is my first in Iowa. After that, the Republican National committeeman, a man named Steve Sheffler, who also happens to be President of the Iowa Christian Alliance, sent me a very terse, threatening e-mail. And it said: "You and the radical homosexual community are not welcome in Iowa. And as a matter of fact, I will work overtime," an interesting choice of words, "to abort your candidacy." Well, you know, this is from the number-two-ranking Republican in the state of Iowa. And I turned that over to the Des Moines Register and it became a huge news story there. And a lot of comments, everyone defended my right to be in that Iowa caucus, if I choose to do so. So, I think if people are going to attack me strictly because I happen to be gay, I think that that will backfire.