Update: August 29, 2011

Aug 29, 2011

August 29, 2011

Contact: Rina Shah



Karger Sends Letter of Request to Join

Reagan Library Debate

LOS ANGELES, CA – Californian and former President Reagan political consultant Fred Karger, sent a letter last week formally requesting inclusion in the September 7, 2011 Presidential Debate to be held at the Reagan Library.  Citing his long involvement with President Reagan, Karger reached out to debate lead sponsor, Fred Ryan of Politico, who also serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Reagan Library.  The letter was also sent to debate co-sponsor and NBC owner, Comcast CEO, Brian L. Roberts, several other co-sponsors, as well as Mrs. Nancy Reagan and Brian Williams of NBC News who will moderate the debate.

This request to participate comes on the heels of Karger being allowed to speak at the California Republican Party (CRP) Convention which will be held in Los Angeles 10 days later.  The CRP had originally not invited Karger to speak, but after a front page story in the San Francisco Chronicle by reporter Carla Marinucci, the CRP changed it’s mind and is now hosting a reception for him on Saturday, September 17, 2011. CLICK HERE FOR STORY


This is what an inclusive debate could look like on September 7th at the Reagan Library with Karger on the stage (second from right).

“We’re hoping that because I have the closest ties to former President Reagan of any candidate running for President, the organizers would want me on that stage in Simi Valley to share President Reagan’s vision for America,” said Karger.  “I have been campaigning all over this country for the past 19 months spreading his values, his message of optimism and his ability to get along with Democrats and Republicans alike.”

Letter is below:


August 25, 2011

Mr. Frederick J. Ryan, Jr.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

40 Presidential Drive

Simi Valley, CA 93065

Dear Fred:

America needs a president like Ronald Reagan now more than ever.  President Reagan was a true leader who was able to put partisan differences aside in order to do what was best for the country.

Through Stu Spencer and Bill Roberts, I had the honor of working actively on the 1980 and 1984 Reagan – Bush campaigns with Stu and Bill.   I worked with Bob Gray and Charles Wick on the First Inaugural Committee.  I moved back to Washington and we ran the Governor’s Participation office.

As a partner of Bill’s at the Dolphin Group, we worked with Lyn Nofziger and Curtis Mack at President Reagan’s PAC, Citizens for the Republic, from 1981 to 1988.  We implemented much of the outside political work to support the President’s legislative agenda.

President Reagan was more than my boss; he was my mentor.   President Reagan taught me about optimism, toughness, and getting along.  He taught me about the diversity of this country and the Republican Party, how to get along and how to bring us together.  The nation loved his decisive leadership.

I have built my Presidential Campaign to emulate that Reagan spirit.  In my speeches in Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina, my home state of California and throughout the country, I share with Americans that true Reagan spirit; his optimism and his ability to get along.

Let America see a true Reagan Republican on the televised debate from the Reagan Presidential Library on September 7th.  I hope that you and the other sponsors will let me on that stage.  I promise to invoke President Reagan’s memory and spirit at every turn, like no other Republican candidate for President can.

My candidacy is historic and I have many important plans and ideas to turn this country around just like President Reagan did more than 30 years ago.

I look forward to hearing from you, and hope to see you in Simi Valley in two weeks.

Best regards,

Fred Karger

cc:   Mrs. Nancy Reagan

Mr. Brian L. Roberts, Chairman/CEO of Comcast

Mr. Jeffery Immelt, Chairman/CEO of General Electric

Mr. Steve Capus, President of NBC News

Mr. Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC

Mr. John F. Harris, Editor-in-Chief of Politico

Mr. Brian Williams

Debate Sponsors




State GOP reverses course: Fred Karger, openly gay 2012 candidate, invited to speak at Sept. state convention

For link to full story, CLICK HERE

The state GOP “Big Tent” has lifted a flap.

After initially giving Fred Karger what he called “the cold shoulder” in his attempts to speak at the upcoming California GOP state convention, the party has now apparently decided to welcome the only openly gay GOP candidate in the 2012 presidential race.

“I’m thrilled and I’m glad they came around to let me participate,” said Karger today, who credited the party’s shift to a Chronicle story published Tuesday about his case… (More)


Since announcing that he was considering running for President at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference on April 10, 2010, Fred has received a tremendous amount of attention.  Below is some of the national and international coverage, as well as poll data that has him ahead or tied with other Reagan Library Debate participants.


In the most recent Harris Interactive Poll, Fred came in at 2%, tying former Governors Pawlenty and Huntsman and out polling Gary Johnson, Rick Santorum, Thaddeus McCotter and Buddy Roemer.

In the newest Zogby Poll, Fred tied Newt Gingrich and surpassed Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer.

Fred has averaged more than 1% in the five most recent national polls that have included him.


Fred Karger was the first candidate to file for President of the United States.

Fred was the first candidate to run commercials for his campaign: introductory ads for New Hampshire and in Iowa, an issue piece called Tyrannosaurus Rex and Demon Frisbee to introduce voters to the grassroots precinct walking.

Fred Karger was the first candidate to hire staff in an early primary state when he hired the former communications director for the Iowa Republican Party to be his Iowa State Director in November of 2010.

Fred was the first candidate to do large scale Saturday precinct walks in New Hampshire.  These have been reported on by the Portsmouth Herald and the Keene Sentinel.

Fred was the first candidate to lease a home in the first primary state, New Hampshire, and it will serve as his base of operations through the New Hampshire Primary.

Fred is making history as the first openly gay candidate to run for the presidency of the United States.

News Coverage

Fred has been profiled hundreds of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post , The Chicago Tribune, The Jerusalem Post, The Observer , the Boston Globe, The OC Weekly and Chicago Magazine.   David Frost interviewed his first 2012 presidential candidate when he interviewed Fred Karger.  Stephen Sackur of BBC’s HardTalk interviewed its first 2012 Republican Presidential candidate when he interviewed Fred.  MSNBC, CBS News, New Hampshire’s WMUR-TV, The Manchester Union Leader, The Des Moines Register, Politico and The Huffington Post all regularly cover Fred and include him in their lists of 2012 candidates.


Nashua Telegraph: August 20, 2011

Aug 19, 2011

nashua telegraph logo

Karger runs as first openly gay presidential candidate


Staff Writer

For link to story, Click Here

MANCHESTER – On the campaign trail, Fred Karger never forgets his American flag pin, considered standard attire for a presidential hopeful.

But his pin, pressed neatly to his suit jacket, is different than most. Specially made from gold-lacquered metal, it binds the stars and stripes with another flag crossed with rainbow colors.

Six months into the campaign season, Karger is making history as the first openly gay candidate to campaign for the Oval Office. But, as a moderate in a conservative Republican field, he’s having trouble finding his audience.

Despite 17 trips to New Hampshire, Karger, 61, hardly registers on state or national polls. He wasn’t invited to this week’s Presidential debate in Iowa, and he wasn’t asked to take part in the debate held in Manchester earlier this summer.

“It’s funny. Republicans don’t like me because I’m gay, and the gay population doesn’t like me because I’m Republican,” he said, seated comfortably in the living room of his rental home in Manchester, which doubles as a campaign headquarters. “It’s an interesting place to be.”

Rather than following the prescribed route of debates and television ads, Karger, a veteran campaign consultant from California, is paving his own trail. He has rented the Manchester house, which comes with a pool and seven bedrooms for campaign staff. He bought a bike to travel around the city, and he is greeting voters, one at a time, handing out frisbees on neighborhood walks and carrying a bagpipe player in tow.

“You walk down the street with a bagpipe and everybody comes to their door,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t think any (candidate) has ever done that before.”

As the country’s first openly gay candidate, Karger, who grew up in Illinois before moving west, is used to breaking ground. But he’s hoping it’s his politics, not his sexual orientation, that distances him from the field of candidates.

“You see the candidates debate. They wouldn’t disagree on anything,” he said. “That’s not a debate. That’s a chorus or something. So, yeah, I come at it from a very different point of view. … I want to be that Republican that turns back to the way the party used to be, which was a caring party.”

Making history

A self-anointed independent Republican, Karger served as a campaign adviser to three presidents. He quotes Richard Nixon, and he counts Ronald Reagan among his heroes. “Reagan’s spirit and optimism is just nonexistent in the current administration,” he said last week.

But, if he doesn’t get to be the next Reagan, Karger wants, at least, to become the next Shirley Chisholm.

In 1972, Chisholm, a Congresswoman from New York, became the first African American candidate from a major party to run for president.

And, years from now, whenever U.S. voters elect the country’s first openly gay Commander-in-Chief, Karger hopes he’ll be a similar footnote to history.

“Fred is historic. … No one has ever done what he’s doing before,” said Susan MacNeil, executive director of AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region, a social service agency in Keene.

As a nonprofit organization, AIDS Services officials do not endorse candidates, but MacNeil has met Karger several times, hosting him at agency events.

“Much like Barack Obama is the first Black president, Fred is making a very courageous attempt to open that door (for the gay community),” she said Friday. “I have great admiration for anybody who chooses the difficult path, and Fred is certainly choosing that difficult path. … Somebody’s got to start this conversation.”

Having advised candidates for years behind the scenes, Karger entered the public eye about four years ago. After decades of remaining closeted, he came out publicly in 2006, starting a campaign to save a celebrated California gay bar. It wasn’t until 2008, as the debate raged over California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 legislation, that he first considered running for office.

“I never ever thought I would run because I was gay,” he said. “I knew that wouldn’t be a particular help within the Republican party, and I just got used to it. … But when I became active in the Proposition 8 gay marriage campaign, then everything was out.”

Karger briefly considered running for local or state office. But California’s Democratic majority left him with little chance of winning a local race.

“As a Republican, I would have a better chance of getting elected President (than winning) my Congressional district, which is an absolute lopsided district,” he said.

So, instead, Karger turned his sights to the Oval Office, meeting with political leaders and strategists from California to Washington, D.C. But, it wasn’t until a trip to New Hampshire that he finally decided to run.

Coming to NH

On a cold winter night in March 2010, Karger found himself in Durham, speaking to members of the University of New Hampshire’s Gay Straight Alliance.

In an hour-long discussion, he shared his personal story and spoke about his prospective candidacy, and by the time he left the room, he was in the race.

“We had just elected Obama, and I remember seeing young African Americans … kind of just looking up in absolute awe that somebody who’s black like them could run for president, let alone win,” Karger said, reflecting on the meeting.

“I don’t mean to put myself in that arena, but it was a similar kind of feeling with these young people,” he said. “They were absolutely in awe and amazed that a gay man could consider running for president. … That was when I knew I was going in the right direction.”

From that point, Karger has made New Hampshire his second home, crossing the state for neighborhood walks, house parties and beach clean-ups, among other events.

He has shaken hands with voters across the state, highlighting the differences between himself and the other, more well-known candidates. “When they hear ‘moderate’ or ‘centrist’ or ‘independent,’ these people just light up,” he said.

Karger is even reaching the point with many voters where they stop asking him about his sexual orientation, instead focusing more on his political stances, which include emphasis on smaller government, education reform and strong national defense.

“I believe in keeping government out of our lives, which a lot of my fellow Republicans agree with except (for social issues like gay marriage). I am more of a purist in that regard,” he said.

“Fred being openly gay is part of the reason why I support him, but not the main reason I support him,” added Bob Thompson, a former state Representative from Manchester who was the first state lawmaker to be married under the state’s same-sex marriage law. “I like his stand on education. … As he and I both know, we fix the national debt. … We may not agree on everything, but Fred will listen to all options.”

As the campaign moves forward, Karger is hoping to have the opportunity to express himself before television audiences. His poll numbers are climbing, reaching 1 percent and catching some candidates like Newt Gingrich in some counts, and he’s hoping soon to qualify for upcoming debates.

Debates appearances could help boost his name recognition and help lift him to a strong showing in the February primary and beyond.

“I don’t know if I’ll win the primary, but first, second or third would be huge news,” he said. “It could catapult me into other primaries.”

But even if his campaign falls short, Karger will forever be a part of history, said MacNeil, director of the AIDS Services group in Keene.

“When you look at the anti-gay atmosphere out there, you look at all those teenagers who are desperate to have a (gay) role model,” she said. “Now, at the highest political tier, they can look at Fred and see he’s gay and he’s in front of the world running to be President of the United States. … You can’t imagine the message that can send.”


Jake Berry can be reached at 594-6402 or jberry@nashuatelegraph.com.