Like a number of people, Fred Karger wants to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. It’s safe to say that most, if not all, Republican caucus goers have never heard of Karger. It’s also a safe to assume that Iowa’s conservative caucus goers probably don’t agree with Karger on a number of issues.
At his press conference in Des Moines last week, Karger described himself as, “The most aggressive gay activist in the United States.” He is the founder and director of Californians Against Hate, which led boycotts of companies that supported Proposition 8 in California. He has also targeted the Mormon Church for its involvement in passing Proposition 8.
In the 2008 election cycle, Karger made numerous contributions to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and also donated to Bill Richardson’s campaign. In addition to being a gay rights activists, he also writes a blog on the liberal website, The Huffington Post, where he has attacked the National Organization for Marriage, Mike Huckabee, and the Mormon Church.
It seems a little odd that an openly gay candidate who refuses to talk about anything but gay rights issues would mount much of a campaign here in Iowa. Not only have conservative voters dominated the Republican caucuses in previous years, but more than a half-million Iowans voted to oust three state Supreme Court justices in the last election, in large part, because of their decision in Varnum vs. Brien, which led to gay marriages being allowed in the state of Iowa.
Karger knows that he doesn’t really stand any chance of winning, but he is not really interested in that. His real objective is being included in the upcoming presidential debates. Before you chuckle at the idea of a long shot candidate like Karger being included, it is important to remember that the Des Moines Register included Alan Keyes in its 2007 presidential debate.
The Des Moines Register allowed Alan Keyes to debate the rest of the presidential field in advance of the 2008 Iowa caucuses despite the fact that Keyes didn’t campaign in the state or even indicated to Republican officials in the state that he was a candidate. The Register was scrutinized for allowing Keyes in its debate while it barred Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Congressman Mike Gravel from its Democratic presidential debate, which occurred a week earlier.
The national news media skewered the Register for allowing Keyes into its debate. The Register defended its decision by saying that Keyes had met its criteria of having announced his campaign, established a campaign office in Iowa, employed one full-time campaign staff person, and garnered one percent in the Register’s poll.
Karger is now attempting to follow Keyes’ 2007 strategy as he has already met one of the Register’s conditions by hiring an Iowan to lead his Iowa campaign. Nathan Trealor, Karger’s new Iowa campaign manager, has been involved in Iowa politics for almost a decade. He cut his teeth in Iowa politics on Bob Vander Plaats’ 2002 gubernatorial campaign.
More recently, Treloar has been involved with Project Destiny, a scheme concocted by a handful of large Des Moines companies to increase property taxes. Treloar has also worked for a global warming initiative, and this spring, he ran Mark Rees’ 3rd District Congressional campaign. Rees, who was a registered Democrat before he sought the Republican nomination, ultimately endorsed Democrat Leonard Boswell over Republican Brad Zaun in the general election.
Karger made it abundantly clear, the only reason that he’s running for president is to push his gay agenda. When a reporter asked him about his qualifications, Karger said, “I’m doing it to raise the issue of LGBTQ equality, to set an example. I came up with this idea during my Prop 8 activism a little over two years ago.”
Karger then went on to talk about how his goal is to participate in the debates.
“I’m probably not going to win, but if I can be in those debates, I have a very definite strategy to get in those debates. There were 19 last time . We looked at all 19, who sponsored them, what the criteria was, how to get in those. We looked at people like Alan Keyes, who had to fight his way in [and] who was not an elected official. We looked at the lawyers he used and the strategies that others have used to get in those. If I can achieve that, if I can get in some of those early debates, I will declare victory at that stage.”
The presidential debates that will take place over the next year are serious business. To allow an obscure candidate whose only goal is to advance the gay agenda would be a disservice to primary voters and the other legitimate candidates. There are hundreds of obscure candidates who run for president every cycle. While they have every right to run, it is impossible to allow them all on the debate stage, let alone take them seriously.
Iowa caucus goers deserve a substantive debate about the serious issues that face our nation. Unfortunately, the Des Moines Register proved in 2007 that it incapable of producing a serious debate. Hopefully, the candidates will be more amendable to allowing a national news outlet the opportunity to produce a presidential debate in Iowa.
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