CBS News

Apr 22, 2011

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With debate approaching, GOP picture remains blurry

April 23, 2011, 7:00am

Posted by Jan Crawford, Robert Handin

For link to story, Click Here


(Credit CBS/AP)

Nothing says “presidential primary” like a debate, which can be the first snapshots of the candidates voters see. But this year, the early debates aren’t expected to give us the whole picture.

Unlike in years past, some of the more serious candidates are sitting out the early debates-leaving only a handful of contenders to take the stage and take each other on.

That’s an entirely different story than in the 2008 campaign. Then, the debates started early, and the field was crowded. The first Republican debate in the ’08 campaign was in May 2007, and 10 candidates competed–including big names like Sen. John McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Ron Paul and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The second debate took place less than two weeks later in South Carolina–and had the same 10 big-name participants.

This time it’s a different photograph.

The first debate this year was scheduled for May, the same month as the first one four years ago. And like four years ago, it was to be hosted by MSNBC and Politico at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. But it didn’t happen-and organizers eventually moved it to September.

“Although there will be a long and impressive list of Republican candidates who eventually take the field, too few have made the commitment thus far for a debate to be worthwhile in early May,” said John Heubusch, executive director for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, in explaining the decision.

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Republican presidential hopefuls stand on stage prior to the start of the televised Republican Candidates Debate 24 January 2008 at Florida Atlantic University Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium in Boca Raton, FL. From left are: former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney; Arizona Senator John McCain; former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani; Texas Congressman Ron Paul; and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

(Credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

So what about the next scheduled debate? Same story. Just like four years ago, it’s set to be hosted by Fox News in South Carolina and is scheduled for early May. Organizers say they’re going forward.

But unlike in 2007, it doesn’t look like all of the major contenders will even be there. And that raises the question of whether the debate will be the opening salvo in the primary contest or, as seems more likely, merely an event along the way.

There are a few reasons this debate roster isn’t going to resemble later debate lineups. First, many prospective candidates can’t–or don’t–want to meet the criteria to attend.

According to the debate rules-which were in effect four years ago, incidentally–candidates have until the end of the day next Friday, April 29, to registere an exploratory committee or announced a “formal campaign” for the presidency. Otherwise, they can’t participate in the debate. Oh, and they also must register at least 1 percent support in national polls.

And then there’s the issue of the late start to the campaign–with an incumbent on the other side. That’s also unlike four years ago-when the primaries on both sides were wide open.

So let’s stop there. We know the Democratic nominee-but what about the potential Republican field for 2012?

The candidates/potential candidates with at least some national profile include Romney, Huckabee, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, political activist Fred Karger, Atlanta Businessman Herman Cain, and real estate mogul turned reality television star Donald Trump.

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Republican presidential candidates (L-R) then-U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) take to the stage to participate in a GOP presidential debate at Saint Anselms College on June 5, 2007 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

(Credit: Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Of these, only Romney, Pawlenty, Karger and Roemer have filed declarations of their candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. (They’ve also filed paperwork forming exploratory committees, but that is not a legal requirement to run for office — only the declaration of candidacy is.)

That means as of right now, only four Republicans meet that qualification for the debate, since only four have filed with the FEC. And only one of the major candidates who has qualified, Tim Pawlenty, has agreed to attend the debate. Though Romney has filed to run, he has not given any indication that he will attend.

There’s a lot that can happen in the next two weeks, and it’s worth keeping in mind that the election still 19 months away and the Iowa caucuses are still 10 months away. But the reality remains that the debate stage in South Carolina will probably reflect an incomplete portrait of the GOP field.

Among the other potential candidates:

Newt Gingrich: Rick Tyler, Press Secretary for Gingrich, tells CBS News that “We have been planning to participate in South Carolina and we plan to participate in South Carolina if we meet the qualifications for the deadline.” Gingrich is currently in the official “testing the waters phase” of the campaign, and it remains unclear if he will meet the qualifications by filing a declaration of candidacy with the FEC next week.

Jon Huntsman: Ambassador Huntsman’s tenure is not up until the April 30th, so he’s unable to file for the debate — though will he will be speaking in South Carolina a few days later.

Rick Santorum: The former Pennsylvania senator, who has made over 40 visits to the primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, has started a “testing the waters” committee. Santorum is expected to file with the FEC next week and meet the requirements to attend the debate.

Mitch Daniels: The governor is taking care of state business in Indiana, and is unlikely to make any announcement for a few weeks.

Herman Cain: He is also testing the waters and is unlikely to meet the debate polling requirement.

Fred Karger: He has filed with the FEC, but is unlikely to meet the polling requirement.

Buddy Roemer: Roemer has also filed with the FEC, but may not meet the polling requirement.

Ron Paul: A Paul advisor told CBS News the Texas congressman will meet the requirements to be at the South Carolina debate, so expect him to file the necessary paperwork this week.

Donald Trump: Trump can’t file officially until after this season of his reality program, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” which doesn’t end until May 22.

Mike Huckabee: Though he won the Iowa caucus in 2008, Huckabee does not appear close to running again. Still, he’s leading many polls and has the name recognition to enter the race late and a potentially make a splash.

Haley Barbour: Barbour appears likely to run, having made numerous trips to early primary states and having just won the South Carolina straw poll. He has also said that he would decide on a run before the end of April, giving him about a week to do so and qualify for the debate.

Michele Bachmann: The Tea Party-linked congresswoman has also spent time in those three big early states, but also doesn’t appear to be on the verge of announcing a formal run.

The takeaway? Despite the fact that so many Republicans are chomping at the bit to remove Barack Obama from the White House, the 2012 Republican field has been slow to take shape.

University of South Carolina: The Daily Gamecock

Apr 22, 2011

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Thursday, 21 April 2011 23:03

Fred Karger, the first openly gay presidential contender and a Republican, speaks at BGLSA event

By Kathryn Kranjc, The Daily Gamecock

fred 4.22

Fred Karger, the first openly gay presidential candidate, spoke to BGLSA students Thursday. George Hinchliffe / THE DAILY GAMECOCK

For link to story, Click Here

Candidate spreads LGBT message

Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger took a break from his South Carolina campaign tour Thursday night to share a positive message about LGBT progress in American politics with 25 Bisexual Gay Lesbian Straight Alliance members and supporters in the Swearingen Engineering Center.

BGLSA president Tyler Murphy, who received an email from Karger last Wednesday, felt the timing of Karger’s message was appropriate for USC’s LGBT community in light of recent controversy over Southern Baptist Convention President G. Bryant Wright’s proposed reception of a USC honorary degree at this year’s graduation ceremony.

“The LGBT community has actually been receiving a lot of positive support, so with that and having Karger here, I have full confidence that it will be settled,” the third-year criminal justice student said.

Karger, a former political consultant for the Republican Party and adviser to former presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, is the first openly gay candidate in history to run for the office of president of the United States, as well as the first to seek a nomination from a major political party. His campaign was officially commissioned March 30, much to the surprise of some of his fellow Republicans, but he said he had been considering running since the summer of 2008.

“By then, I was out, and the world was open to me,” the spry, 61-year-old Illinois native said. “I was free, and everything had started falling into place.”

Karger has spent the past 35 years in the political arena, but he said a majority of that time was spent living a “double life,” fearing that knowledge of his 11-year relationship might cost him his job and his family.

However, Karger found confidence in advocating for gay rights issues while living in Laguna Beach, Calif., where he started a campaign to save a local gay hub from being bought out. Shortly after, the California legislature passed Proposition 8, or the California Marriage Protection Act, denying the validity of same-sex marriage, and Karger adopted a “no more Mr. Nice Gay,” mentality. He co-founded Californians Against Hate (now known as Rights Equal Rights), a political action committee dedicated to exposing and boycotting major donors to the “Yes on Proposition 8” campaign. He led several boycotts and major investigations of “big-hitters” such as the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel chain and Bolthouse Farms. In 2008, he successfully filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission against the National Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for failure to report nearly $36,000 of involvement in the campaign.

“I want to make it socially unacceptable for anyone to contribute to a campaign that takes away the rights of the minority,” Karger said.

In addition to gay rights, Karger said his No. 1 priority is improvement to public education. A self-described “independent Republican” who still believes in small government, a strong national defense and limited spending, Karger said he hopes to change the party from within to the more moderate Republican Party he knew in the 1950s.

“We have to take a tough approach, but we can’t lose sight of the people we serve,” Karger said.

Since the announcement of his candidacy, Karger has been traveling the country, addressing LGBT student organizations on several college campuses. He shared a message that he had received from one high school student, thanking Karger for giving him hope through his campaign that, one day, he might be able to marry the person he loves.

“Notes like this are why I’m here,” Karger said. “I hope to make a difference in a lot of lives.”


News Alert April 21, 2011

Apr 21, 2011

April 21, 2011                                                                      Contact: Rina Shah


Fred Karger Invited to South Carolina Debate!!!

Would Make History

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – Yesterday Fred received an email package of information from Joel Sawyer, Executive Director of the South Carolina Republican Party.  Included was a letter that said the following:


The South Carolina Republican Party and Fox News Channel have partnered to host the First-in-the-South Republican Presidential Debate, and we hope you will be part of this truly historic event…

The debate will be held from 9 PM – 10:30 PM on May 5, 2011 at the Peace Center for Performing Arts in Greenville, South Carolina. The debate will be televised live on the Fox News Channel and will be moderated by veteran Fox News anchor and award winning journalist Bret Baier.

“We look forward to your participation in the First-In-The-South Republican Party Presidential Candidates Debate.”

Karen Floyd

South Carolina Republican Party


Andy Barr of Politico reported on the historic invitation:

“Fred Karger, the openly gay Republican presidential hopeful, is one step closer to getting into an upcoming debate.

The South Carolina GOP invited Karger to take part in its May 5 face-off, co-sponsored by Fox News, as long as he can meet the requirements…”

To see the full story, Click Here.


Statement from Fred Karger:

I am honored to be invited to participate in the debate that helped catapult my old boss Ronald Reagan to the Presidency in 1980.  South Carolina hosts the first debate of the 2012 election cycle – the first where Americans will be able to see the emerging field of Presidential candidates.  This debate could well help launch the eventual Republican nominee to run against President Obama on November 6, 2012.

If I am able to step on to that stage in Greenville, South Carolina on May 5th, I will make history as the first out gay person to ever participate in a Presidential debate, and the first Jewish Republican to ever do so as well.  It would be an incredibly proud time for our nation, and send a powerful message to all Americans and to the world that in this 235 year old country, anything is possible.  We are able to put our differences aside and all work together.

I need your help to pay the $25,000 SCGOP filing fee required to participate in the May 5th Debate, and help to open up the Republican Party.  






I need your help right away.  Think how good you will feel to help make history, and give hope to so many Americans.  Please send $10, $25, $100 or $500 today to help Get Fred In the South Carolina debate.  Please contribute whatever you can to get me in the first debate of the 2012 election.

This is what the First-in-the-Nation Debate should look like

Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Fred Karger, Newt Gingrich, 
Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin

One other hurdle remains in order for me to participate in the debate.  I will meet four out of the five criteria that the SCGOP and the Fox News Channel have set.  Their letter goes on to say that candidates must have satisfied the following:

“5.  Garnered at least an average of one (1) percent in five (5) national polls based on most recent polling leading up to the registration deadline.”

To our knowledge my name has not been included in any polls as of yet.  Our campaign has identified and been in touch with eleven different polling firms as well as their sponsors to discuss this.  We are working to rectify the situation.

I am in South Carolina this week and plan to meet with state party officials to clarify this polling question.  We will also discuss their requirement that even potential candidates who have not yet filed to run for President with the Federal Election Commission, and have only established an Exploratory Committee, are able to pay the filing fee for the Primary and be in the debate.

FEC regulation states: “Certain activities, however, indicate that an individual has decided to become a candidate and is no longer merely testing the waters, (such as individual) Seeks ballot access. 11 CFR 100.72(b) and 100.131(b).”

How great would it be to have an inclusive debate.  South Carolina’s favorite son, the late Lee Atwater came up with the term “Big Tent.”  I worked closely with Lee on President Reagan’s reelection campaign in 1984.  Lee and Ronald Reagan wanted to open up the Republican Party to all.  I have always wholeheartedly agreed with this approach.  A more inclusive Republican Party is one of the primary reasons for my candidacy.  I want to open up the Republican Party to everybody.

My Debate Pledge: I promise to be respectful and to conduct myself with dignity and honor in the fine tradition of Presidential debates.  I will bring new ideas, vigor and a centrist approach to the May 5th Presidential Debate.


Fred Travels to South Carolina, Iowa and Texas

The only officially filed candidate for President departed California yesterday on a 12 day campaign trip.  He will stop first in South Carolina for a four day visit to the Palmetto State.  Karger, accompanied by campaign Research Director, Kevin Miniter will be attending private meetings, speaking in the capitol, Columbia and Charleston and traveling all over this important early Presidential Primary State.

Highlights of Fred’s Schedule in the Palmetto State

Columbia:  Thursday, April 21st  — Speech to the B.G.L.S.A. at the at University of South Carolina:  CLICK HERE

Charleston:  Friday, April 22nd — Dinner – South Carolina Log Cabin Republicans:   CLICK HERE

Then Iowa for Trip # 7 — Jam Packed Four Days

Fred will arrive in Des Moines on Sunday, April 24th.  Iowa State Director, Nathan Treloar has set up 3 1/2 days and nights of speeches, radio and TV interviews, private meetings, Iowa GOP events and two campaign house parties.  Go to for details.

Dallas for the Log Cabin National Convention – April 28th  to May 2nd


Follow Fred on Twitter:  @fredkarger


Fred in the News


B U Quad Magazine

Seattle Examiner


The Telegraph

Guardian: Why Mike Huckabee Can’t Run for President

Apr 15, 2011


To view the story, CLICK HERE

Why Mike Huckabee Can’t Run for President

The former Republican governor released a criminal who went on to kill four cops. He never apologised – nor for anti-gay slurs

Fred Karger, Tuesday 12 April, 2011 14.30 BST


While governor of Arkansas the Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee commuted the 108-year sentence of convicted felon Maurice Clemmons. In November 2010, Clemmons shot to death four police officers in Seattle. Photograph: Tony Gutierrez/AP

Does the name Willie Horton ring a bell? Sure, the murderer of a 16-year-old boy who then Governor Michael Dukakis let out of prison on a weekend furlough. While furloughed, Horton left Massachusetts and went to Maryland where he brutally attacked an innocent young couple in their home. Rape and torture went on 12 hours until Cliff Barnes, who was stabbed 22 times, managed to escape and called police. Horton was captured, went back to prison and two more lives were forever changed.

I am very familiar with the case. I ran committee for the presidency on behalf of George HW Bush in 1988. We helped the victims of Willie Horton tell their stories.

Now, 23 years later, former Governor Mike Huckabee finds himself in a similar situation, only worse. While governor of Arkansas, 11 years ago, Huckabee commuted the 108-year prison sentence of Maurice Clemmons. Clemmons then went on a crime spree and ended up in Seattle, Washington, where on 19 November 2010, he casually walked into a coffee shop early one morning and shot and killed four police officers while they were eating breakfast. He fired at point blank range, killing all four instantly.

Mike Huckabee has the blood of those four police officers on his hands. He has never even apologised to the families of the slain officers, or showed any remorse for what happened in Seattle that day.

One year ago, Mike Huckabee said terrible things about my community and me. He compared gay marriage to incest, polygamy and drug abuse. He said that gay couples should not be able to adopt: “These are not puppies, raising children is not an experiment.” Who the hell is he to cast aspersions on others?

I don’t like self-righteous bullies. So, I will from time to time bring up the hypocrisy of those others who are considering running for president in 2012.

I have written three previous columns asking Mike Huckabee to apologise to the victims of these horrific murders and to the millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans whom he brands as unfit parents. He certainly owes us an apology, as well.

So, Mike, if you are thinking of running for president, you might think again.


MSNBC: Romney’s Archrival?

Apr 15, 2011

NEW YORK, NY & BURBANK, CA – Fred was a guest on MSNBC yesterday and was referred to as “Mitt Romney’s Arch-Rival”.  It’s quite an interview.  Fred has spent the last 2 ½ years working to get the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to end its obsession with fighting marriage equality across the country.  Watch the interview:  CLICK HERE or on image below.