Fred Karger, the first openly gay presidential candidate announced Tuesday that he is launching a “Truth Squad 2020” campaign after Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has been widely mischaracterized as holding the title.
Karger, a Republican who sought his party’s nomination in 2012, announced his “correction” campaign will kick off in Detroit as 2020 Democratic hopefuls gather for the second round of presidential debates.
“Over the next several months we will be highlighting much of what we did during our 2.5 years of full-time campaigning all over the country,” Karger said.
“We’ll focus on the ‘Top 200’ accomplishments, news stories, speeches, meetings, hurdles and experiences from our ground breaking campaign of eight years ago. It was a very different time and I ran in a very different party than Pete and ‘Truth Squad 2020’ will reflect that.”
Karger finished ninth overall out of the eleven major GOP candidates in the primary that was ultimately won by then-candidate Mitt Romney.
Karger, who has called himself a “proud supporter” of Buttigieg, serves on the South Bend, Ind., mayor’s National Investment Council.
“…Buttigieg has been very gracious and has repeatedly thanked Fred for being a trailblazer and making it a little easier for him to run in 2020,” Karger said.
The correction campaign doesn’t seek to take away from Buttigieg’s own bid for the presidency, but rather aims to make sure the historic nature of Karger’s run isn’t erased, he said.
Voters and reporters alike widely recognized Buttigieg, a relatively unknown small town mayor who has risen to the top of the crowded primary, as the first openly gay major party presidential candidate.
“It seems like every day or two there is a new story and we reach out to the journalist via email, Twitter direct message or phone. If that doesn’t work, we go public seeking a fix,” Karger said.
The “Truth Squad” campaign says it will spend the next several months highlighting Karger’s 2012 “ground breaking” campaign’s accomplishments.
The campaign says it will discuss openly the hurdles Karger faced as a gay candidate. In the years between his and Buttigieg’s campaigns, same-sex marriage was legalized and public policy and opinion on gay rights have changed notably.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from March found 54 percent of Americans would be comfortable with a gay or lesbian person running for president. An additional 14 percent said that they would be “enthusiastic” about a gay or lesbian candidate.
A similar 2006 poll found more than 50 percent of Americans had “reservations” or were “very uncomfortable” with a gay person running for office.
“It was a very different time and I ran in a very different party than Pete and ‘Truth Squad 2020’ will reflect that,” Karger said.
A Buttigieg campaign spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.