The GOP’s Gay President?

May 1st, 2011 at 12:00 am | 26 Comments |

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What do you do if you’re running for president, pharm but have no name recognition and no experience in elected office? Like Republican Fred Karger, diagnosis who is in just that situation, order you’ll probably be making a lot of trips to New Hampshire and Iowa.

“I have a five state strategy, which is really just a two state strategy,” said Karger in an extensive interview with FrumForum. Since April 2010, when he announced that he was running for president – making him the first openly gay candidate for president from a major party – he has been to Iowa seven times, and New Hampshire thirteen times.

Most prominently known in California as a gay activist who fought to reveal the role of the Mormon church during the Proposition 8 referendum, Karger feels that that the Republican Party has drifted too far to the right. In 2008, Karger openly supported Hillary Clinton, donating thousands of dollars to her campaign (he supported some of her policies, but “just economically”, he says).

“It was a very difficult decision” at the time, Karger tells FrumForum. “I never really actively supported a Democrat at that level. But the Republican Party has moved so far to the right, even someone like John McCain, who I had always admired, seemed to compromise his positions.” Despite his flirtations with the Democratic Party, he says, he’s back to reform the GOP for the better – “to bring younger people in, and open up the party to all.”

Karger is an amicable enough fellow, and recognizes his weaknesses: his campaign slogan is ‘Fred, who?’ But being such an unknown figure means that he’s been spending a lot of time battling for people to take him seriously, often going to extreme efforts to garner even the tiniest amounts of attention.

Just a month ago, in order to win a straw poll at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire – student population: around 1900 – Karger spent a week shaking hands, handing out Frisbees, and manning a table. After a week of working the crowds, he managed to come in first, with 79 of 322 ballots cast, just five ahead Mitt Romney. But what is the effect of a full week’s hard work? Nearly nil.

It must be frustrating not to be noticed, and Karger is facing exclusion everywhere he looks. CPAC wouldn’t respond to his request for a speaking slot, and told him that they didn’t have room for his booth in the convention hall. The debates have largely shut him out. His campaign’s most successful achievement has been to get an invite to the South Carolina GOP debates in May. That is, if he can get 1% or more in five national polls by then – he has only one: on Friday, a FOX poll had him at 1% in the first national poll he was listed in.

But Karger is not a man to give up. Having cut his teeth as a political operative and worked under President Reagan (whose inner circle during the early California gubernatorial years was “quite gay”, he says), Karger wants “to bring that optimism that President Reagan had, and the ability to get along with people, I think that is something that I can do and bring to this campaign.” So despite the odds, Karger is at least a man who looks on the bright side.

However, Karger’s situation is not a result merely a result of exclusion. As a gay rights activist and former political consultant, he’s got a keen mind for organization and research, but faces genuine challenges on the ideas front. In fact, he’s downright unimpressive on the policy side.

He’s got an rousing enough idea: to restore the American entrepreneurial spirit. But what’s lacking is how to get there. Consider what he told FrumForum about fixing the economy:

“I want to empower people, I want to encourage people who are unemployed to take some of their own initiative. And that’s what’s lacking” he said. “People are just waiting at home for that phone to ring, or for some magic job to appear – well, let’s get out, start creating your own dog-watching service, or… make a candle, that is the entrepreneurial spirit of America. Go out, and buy a candle-making kit for $19.95, make five candles and sell them… those are the kinds of things I want to talk about.”

There’s a real argument behind the notion that the American spirit is wounded, but encouraging people to make candles or walk dogs isn’t a particularly faith-inspiring jobs plan. Doubtlessly, the candle market is down in this distressed economy. In any case, the American spirit jobs plan is, well, a bit too abstract to hope for success.

When asked about the Paul Ryan budget proposal, Karger couldn’t say whether he would vote for or against the Republican plan for reforming entitlements, telling FrumForum he “can’t say right now… I haven’t looked that closely at it. I’m just going to have to take a wait and see attitude right now.” It is simply not excusable for a serious presidential candidate to not have looked closely at the Paul Ryan budget plan.

To add to this problem, Karger’s campaign website doesn’t even have a platform, only a few bullet points on gay rights issues he’s hoping to address. There’s substantially more about his resume, however impressive, than what he would want to do with the power he is seeking.

Karger provides a refreshing reminder that the attitudes of younger voter are changing, especially towards gay rights. And perhaps there is a small niche in the electorate for a gay Republican presidential candidate. But if that candidate is to be Fred Karger, he still has a long way to go in order to prove that he’s worthy of being seen as a serious contender.


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26 Comments so far ↓

  • Bunker555

    Does he have the backing of the Log Cabin Republicans?

  • arvan

    As much as I would seriously love to see people like this pull the GOP back to sanity, I can’t see this guy making it as a congressman, let alone president.

    “I want to encourage people who are unemployed to take some of their own initiative… Go out, and buy a candle-making kit for $19.95, make five candles and sell them… those are the kinds of things I want to talk about.”

    That quote alone is enough to convince me that this guy should never hold higher office. That’s up there with the “bartering for healthcare” quote from a while back.

  • Kevin B

    “As much as I would seriously love to see people like this pull the GOP back to sanity, I can’t see this guy making it as a congressman, let alone president.”

    Maybe he should start there. Or governor. Make a name (and record) for himself, and then run on that.

  • indy

    Is he going to live to be like 2000 years old or something? By then, conservatives will have emigrated to planet 1955, and he might have a shot here on Earth.

  • NRA Liberal

    Buy a candle-making kit???? Is this clown serious?

    So that’s the Galtian Occupation Party’s plan for economic revival: etsy arts and crafts swap meets.

  • VA Shepherd

    Frum Forum? This site ought to be named Queer Quorum. Gay rights get more attention here than the clear and present danger out-of-control-about-to-hit-melt-down national debt. Any editors here heard of Herman Cain? Unfortunately, Hermain Cain is not gay, or he’d be the perfect candidate (he’s also black!). Make candles, indeed! One suspects FF editors have a personal interest in promoting gayness.

    • Nanotek

      “Frum Forum? This site ought to be named Queer Quorum. Gay rights get more attention here than the clear and present danger out-of-control-about-to-hit-melt-down national debt. Any editors here heard of Herman Cain?”

      Cain? LOL the conservative confederacy of dunces continues its lunatic dance … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEjPDS8Jp1E

  • TJ Parker

    The problem with the GOP in 2012 is that its a message in search of a messenger. Who is it who can credibly play this role? You need another Reagan – an actor with a sincere face . That, or someone with a message of his own, like Ryan.

    Karger and Ryan: I’d at least listen and see if they deserved my vote. Mitt Romney and Mitt Daniels and Mitt Huckabee and Mitt Palin and Mitt Bachman: I know everything they’re gonna say, especially the vile homophobic bits.

  • West of the Rockies

    Does this forum have an ombudsman? I’d bet that the FF does not produce that many gay-centric stories. A quick Internet search tells me that the gays represent somewhere between 4-10% of the population. I’d be willing to bet that a smaller percentage of the FF stories pertain to homosexuality. Your homophobia may be showing, VA.

    • ProfNickD

      Why should FrumForum produce “gay-centric” stories, whatever that is? Go read the Advocate or tune in to OutQ on Sirius for that stuff.

      • Nanotek

        ProfNickD: “Why should FrumForum produce “gay-centric” stories, whatever that is? Go read the Advocate or tune in to OutQ on Sirius for that stuff.”

        which do you prefer?

        • TJ Parker

          Andrew Sullivan usually covers what’s current and topmost, especially if bears are involved. Advocate is pretty complete but indiscriminate. The New Civil Rights Movement is topical and political.

      • TerryF98

        A recent study shows that homophobes like you are in fact Homosexuals who are pleading to be within the community not outside bashing it.

        ProfNickD Come out of that closet.

  • West of the Rockies

    Casually speaking, “gaycentric” would pertain to material pertaining to the gay community. I am not personally advocating more gay-related stories appear on the FF. Nor am I bothered when such stories do appear. It does strike me as a gross exaggeration to suggest that gay-related stories get as much attention as has been suggested.

    I agree with previous posters that Karger stands no chance of becoming the next “Young Gun” of the Republican party. Additionally, I concur that he should start with a smaller goal than president. Get on a school board or planning committee. Gain experience and name-recognition, and then aim higher. Probably ought to think about switching parties, too.

    • nwahs

      I really think the main purpose of the story was the headline. Its very tweety.

  • Houndentenor

    As DADT and DOMA are in the news recently, I don’t see a disproportionate number of gay-related stores at FF. I believe this is the first mention of Karger on FF. The gay blogs have discussed him and he has given interviews in the gay media. This may also be his last mention on FF because Karger is getting nowhere in the polls. Nowhere in the polls = not in the debates. Not in the debates = no ability to move up in the polls. But surely any person on the ballot deserves some consideration on sites like this.

  • moderategoper

    Fred Karger seems like a nice guy, but he is a fool. He has spent many hours working for and donating checks to a Party that hates him and works against him. He seems shocked that the far right has taken over the party. The far right funds things Mr. Krager….they launch real websites, blogs and yes they even tweet. Moderate Republicans suck because they are lazy and never put there money where their principles are.

    They sit back and complain until it’s to late. They look like idiots when they get a primary challenged from the far right. Instead of preparing for the fight like Lisa Murkowski, they simply think they can “sit it out”. Moderate Republicans are for the most part selfish. They will spend a million bucks to run for office, yet would not spend a dime to help bring more moderates in the party.

    Why Moderate Republicans Suck

    http://themoderatevoice.com/40392/why-moderate-republicans-suck/

    • Bunker555

      A quote from the article you posted:

      “When one goes to look for blogs of moderate/liberal/progressive Republicans, you will tend to find a graveyard of blogs that were started with good intent, but then died for various reasons”

      It’s the wingnuts like Limbaugh, OReilly, Hannity, and Beck that beat the loudest drums, drowning out the voices of some sanity posted on this blog. Hopefully, FF will survive.

      • SqueekyFromm

        Maybe it is because the Moderate/liberal/progressive Republicans (and Democrats) all forgot about middle class America in their pursuit of abortion rights, gay rights, political correctness, and other stuff that is very marginal to most people.

        While jobs were being shipped to China, they were more concerned about expanding the limits of acceptable sex, or making sure we pretend we don’t actually have any discernible set of values and mores.

        Oh, if this wasn’t a family friendly place, I would say something like Marie Anotinette, for the 99er’s —- “Let them________.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

  • forkboy1965

    I don’t know… selling candles and dog walking at least sounds different than the never-ending GOP mantra of “Lower taxes create jobs,” which has been shown to be a fantasy.

    And he didn’t jump on the birther circuit.

    He seems like a winner already compared to the rest of the pack.

  • greg_barton

    Come, now, Frum. Everyone knows the GOP has already had a gay president.