Gay, Jewish, GOP Presidential Candidate Fred Karger: Fred Who? Our Exclusive Interview
Fred Karger is openly-gay, a life-long Republican, Jewish, and running for the GOP nomination for President of the United States of America. Long shot? Hey, you never know. Michael Talon in our exclusive interview explains.
“I am a unique individual, living as a gay man, who believes in basic fundamental principles that are at the core of the Republican Party,â€ said Karger. â€œLiving in (â€¦the politically charged bi-partisan world) for 30 years â€“ made me a strong Republican, vetted with solid credentials. And yet I am a progressive and not just around LGBT issues.”
I will always remember it as a unique and oddly middle-of-the road introduction for a Republican nominee who is facing the steepest uphill battle. â€œI am running for the Republican Presidential nomination.â€ Declaring those words as an openly-gay, life-long Republican, Fred Karger, who isnâ€™t a man with an axe to grind against the GOP, instead he is someone with a vision, plan and maybe a little dream â€“ to become a President of the United States of America — for a party that he believes in, caused some of us to look up and take notice.
The idea that a proud and openly-gay man would want to run for the leadership of the country under the banner of the party that has over the past 30 years been on the forefront of the most devastating of blows to the LGBT community is an idea that makes someone stop and think. What motivates a person to do choose this course? Why take on the uphill battle from within the party let alone the battle from your own community against what some may view as a betrayal? Are we giving this a fair and frank analysis or are we allowing our bias and hurt to mar our opinions? I was determined to find out.
In September of 2010, Karger became a few firsts, beginning with putting in his bid for the nomination. A place in history that will forever be bear his name was carved out that day. He is the first Jewish person on a Republican ticket, and closest to home the first openly-gay man to run for the any major political party presidential race.
Many were quick to acknowledge the historical markers that Karger fulfilled, and even quicker to ask what would become a campaign slogan: Who is Fred?
From the Republican glory days under Reagan during some of the darkest of days for the LGBT community, to the battle in California on Prop 8, Karger has been front and center. With nine Presidential campaigns under his belt, time served in the White House under Reagan, Ford and Bush Sr., he has seen the gamut when it comes to the struggles of the American people.
Karger is running for the Republican nomination for President in 2012.
I needed to know more about this man â€“ and more importantly the answers to a few questions.
To understand who Karger is I really needed to understand who Karger was.
Who Karger Was
Karger was born on January 31, 1950, in Glencoe, Illinois, a place that most of us see in the movies that begin by boasting happy, white picket fence, â€œdonâ€™t rock the boatâ€ American families. This story however twists when a boy named Fred is born to Jean, an active community volunteer, and Robert S. Karger, who owned a brokerage firm. This family was not one that viewed complacency and the acceptance of intolerance as par for the course, nor as a value of American citizens.
In the early 1900â€™s, Jewish families immigrated to the U.S. hoping of a world with full equality and understanding. Instead they faced an all too familiar battle against intolerance and hatred. Kargerâ€™s great-grandfather, Edwin Foreman helped found and served as the first President of the Associated Jewish Charities in Chicago. His son, Alfred, followed in his father’s footsteps. Here they began a legacy that was instilled in their descendants – help your fellow man and community, face any injustice and rectify it.
The family worked to prevent hate crimes and assist families who faced it. Employment and housing discrimination was a norm that many accepted the Foreman family did not feel that this was the United States that represented the diverse population or the hope and drive that was fueling its expansion.
Activists began to appear on the scene as it grew from a tradition among the family into a quality they admired and instilled in themselves. Jean Foreman Karger spent her entire adult life helping others by volunteering and working in whatever capacity her community needed her without hatred or judgment.
“My parents instilled in us as children the importance of helping when any person was in need and to fight, yes fight, for what is right not just what is easy.”
— Fred Karger
Karger began in politics during the 1960â€™s supporting as a volunteer Governor Rockefeller of NY. As a volunteer dealing with phone banks and recruitment he was front seat for learning the grueling hours and truth about campaigns, adrenaline and savvy are the key.
Throughout the 70â€™s he began to work for varying Republican committees throughout California and was fortunate enough to be part of President Fordâ€™s White House advance staff. During this time he was groomed in the areas of communications and advertising for politicians, learning the key areas for targeting demographics and voter turnout.
From Press Secretary to Director of the Opposition Campaign in 1984 for Reagan, Karger excelled at responding and advancing policy and driving voters support. One such moment was during the Bush/Dukakis 1988 election was a commercial run that will forever immortalize the structure for campaigns today. Willie Horton became a household name that will forever be in the textbooks of every political science major. Many viewed the campaign ad as race baiting and an unfair representation of the responsibility that was held by the Governor in connection with the Willie Horton case. No matter what the opinion of Dukakis and his supporters, the ad worked to polarize a base that came out and voted Bush into office.
Working for 27 years with The Dolphin Group, Karger finally retired as Senior Vice President. With retirement freeing up time and constraints of the role as consultant to politicians, he turned his attention to gay rights. Californians Against Hate was brought to life in 2008 quickly working to publish the DishonorRoll revealing the names of large dollar donors to Prop8. They attempted boycotts of varying businesses, including the Manchester Grand Hyatt, with varied success. During this time, when it was revealed how heavily involved the Church of Latter Day Saints — the Mormon Church — was with the fight in California, Karger turned to the California Fair Political Practices CommissionÂ (FPPC) filing a complaint based on their financial involvement and the reporting that was done by the Church. After a formal investigation, they were found guilty of 13 different violations and have been ordered to pay fines.
Karger became an influential politico who managed to not only come out as gay during the 80â€™s, he did so as a Republican and learned that evolution was a lesson that many have still not learned from.
The Fred Karger Interview
Knowing the extent of communications and messaging skills that Karger possesses the concern grew over this interview. Was I going to be listening to another politician spout rhetoric, giving me what I wanted to hear rather than the truth? We requested this interview because of the great move forward this is: having a member of the gay community run in a presidential bid that has outlasted Pawlenty.
As a self-proclaimed progressive, who must reach out to progressive groups while courting the conservative, religious right will be a tight-rope walk few have accomplished. For this reason, The New Civil Rights Movement wanted to extend the opportunity to Karger to discuss this stand and the biggest questions that have remained a blank for many in our community, perhaps even the country. And we had questionsâ€¦
How would you effectively change the minds of many progressives in this country from feeling that the Democrats equal the voice of the people, whereas the Republicans equal the voice of the White Rich Corporate Class?
Could you remain faithful to the large corporate backers of the Republican Party while maintaining forward, inclusive ideals that would move the country to an equal for all, middle of the road?
Will you be able to stand up to the members of GetEQUAL, RAN and other groups and tell them intolerance is not acceptable in America?
Ultimately, why run for a party that has a loud, omnipresent and controlling rhetoric and voting bloc that is anti-gay, anti-immigration and often times anti-choice?
Launching into the questions in a rapid fire succession, Karger didnâ€™t miss a beat. Here’s what he had to say:
Today people compare it to a witch-hunt party, or one that keeps equality and progress down. If we look through history we see movement of people as the nation moved east to west. One of the largest changes to party platforms began with southern Democrats to the Republicans. With that switch we started to see Democratic intolerance of the time influence what most people try to claim is a Republican idea.
No matter where we stand, analyze, view history or vote presently we must acknowledge that the leaning towards one side or the other too heavily will bring about inequality for others. Equality and the fair treatment of others is not a party issue â€“ it is a human issue.
I have met with and dealt with State leaders and the national leadership, most of whom are welcoming and honestly interested in seeing where this campaign will lead. There are progressive, forward thinking Americans in the Republican Party, who do not view this right-leaning religious rhetoric that is used to attack, as damaging to the whole country. Over the last few years many who think like I do, have become a little at a loss for a leader who can champion this voice. All they need is someone to stand up and lead, that is what I am attempting to do, show America that we can have differences of opinion, whether in opposite parties or within our own.
Democrats themselves must admit that there has always been dissention among their party when it comes to directions. This is a nation that will forever be growing and evolving, we arenâ€™t done and we must never lose faith in that system. We have overcome so much as a young country and rose to the top, we have bumps along the way but I have never lost faith and I ask every individual to never lose faith in their fellow American.
It was becoming clear as he spoke that I was not going to get the typical talking points for answers. Most people view Fred Karger as a long shot at best, even with a growing online support for him being a new voice in the GOP. This knowledge provided him the ability to go out and speak more honestly. It bolstered the idea that perhaps he could pave the way to a new era for LGBT candidates across the country, since finally we had a viable, credible and experienced political person running on real issues and speaking to everyday Americans all across this country.
Democrats and Republicans alike finally had to face the fact that a gay candidate was not someone showing up in chaps, subverting the virtues of your children and stealing away your religion or God. Is this the man that as a community we could look to as an example of affecting the views in this country for the better?
Before I could come to that conclusion, I had to question him as a member of the gay community about his involvement in the Reagan administration in connection to the close to home issues of the 1980â€™s. Within our own community there continues to rage the animosity between those who choose to support the Republicans as gay persons and those who take the Reagan years as the line in sand you do not cross. Karger was caught in the middle of the battle.
The year 1981 brought about a change in this country that was so profound it caused a movement to form and the emergence of the â€œoutâ€ gay American. The first cases of HIV were being reported in record numbers, only to disastrously grow by the thousands. Once the CDC identified this as having a large effect on the gay community, there was large spread homophobia. No more was this true than from the administration itself. Pat Buchanan, Reaganâ€™s communication director was quoted as saying that AIDS was â€œnatureâ€™s revenge on gay men.â€
Reagan himself seemed to completely ignore the issue. It wasnâ€™t until the very end of his second term in 1987, with 36,058 diagnosed cases of AIDS and 20,849 casualties to this epidemic. Due to the early cases having been identified as effecting only gay men, there was a rush and later a push by the new â€œmoral rightâ€ support base, to keep this quiet and leave it in Godâ€™s hands.
Having lived through this decade and lost close personal friends, as many did, while working and watching the inner workings of this administration during this time, I wondered what were Kargerâ€™s feelings on this time. How would he explain Reagan and what happened?
Reagan was slow to move. The fact that it was 1987 when he would finally address the issue of the deaths of thousands was inexcusable. I must say that it was a very different time and a confusing one for many. Many of us, especially those close to political circles, knew to not publicly come out. We werenâ€™t out and proud in many cases. It was still often kept as the fact that everyone knew, yet no one would mention. You see if you kept quiet about it then the world could accept you.
The President had gay friends and many gay appointees and employees. He was always kind and welcoming and I never heard anything that was homophobic from him. While it was shameful and I will never know why he didnâ€™t come out and take the lead on this as he had on so many other issues, I cannot help but look at the time period and wish that it was different.
This will not excuse what happened or heal the wounds that many in the gay community, myself included, have from the choices made under that administration but I do hope that we will never see the younger generations deal with the same hurt and loss. I knew Reagan for years and I do believe that he always regretted the deaths of so many of our friends and companions â€“ our family.
Processing what had just been said took me a moment as I sat and looked at my notes. Learning from those in the community who had lived through the 80â€™s â€“ people I respected and loved, some of whom I have lost over the past few years to AIDS â€“ it occurred to me that we live in a time when we cannot forget our history. We have created activists, business leaders and voices for the struggles this world faces. Now we have produced an openly gay woman for U.S. Senate, and Karger running for candidacy for President of the United States.
I knew us discussing the present day, Obama, the other GOP candidates, his positions, and what he hopes to do would be the most interesting of allâ€¦
Come back tomorrow for Part Two!
Â All images courtesy of Fred Karger. Used by permission.Â
Growing up in Northern Ontario as aÂ Jehovahâ€™s Witness,Â Michael TalonÂ experienced firsthand the struggle for equality. Now living in the U.S. with his partner, they work with advocates for federal equality, including immigration. Working side by side, Michael and his partner Brad, head of Luna Media Group, help to deliver messages for equality to the nation.
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Trump Indicted by Grand Jury: Reports
Donald Trump’s attorneys have been notified a grand jury has voted to indict the ex-president on numerous federal charges and ordered to appear in a Miami court next Tuesday, according to ABC News, CNN, and NBC News. Trump on his Truth Social account made a similar claim..
“Former President Donald Trump has been indicted in the special counsel’s classified documents probe, sources familiar with the matter tells CNN,” the network reports. “Trump has been charged with seven counts in the indictment, according to another source familiar with the matter.”
CNN has two sources confirming that Trump has been indicted pic.twitter.com/xY7aFXo9dL
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 8, 2023
“We’re learning from our sources that there appears to be at least seven counts here,” ABC News’ Katherine Faulders reported on-air, ABC News online reports.. “This ranges from everything from the willful retention of national defense information to conspiracy to a scheme to conceal to false statements and representations.”
MSNBC on-air reports NBC News has confirmed the Trump indictment, and NBC News online reports the indictment is “in connection with his mishandling of more than 100 classified documents that were discovered last year at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, making the twice-impeached former commander-in-chief the first former president to face federal criminal charges.”
Watch this currently ongoing ABC News live streaming video:
BREAKING: Former Pres. Trump has been indicted for a second time, sources familiar confirm to @ABC News.
@PierreTABC joins @DavidMuir: “This is perhaps one of the most consequential investigations the Justice Department has done in recent memory.” pic.twitter.com/klwOQjGoiK
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) June 8, 2023
In three separate entries on his Truth Social platform, Trump writes: “The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted,” along with several false allegations NCRM will not publish.
“I have been summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, at 3 PM,” he adds.
He also declares he is “innocent.”
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.
‘Where’s the Money?’: Biden Laughs Out Loud, Mocks GOP’s Allegations
Just as his press conference with the U.K. Prime Minister was coming to a close and reporters were asked to remain seated, a jovial President Joe Biden stayed and took several questions from reporters desperate to ask about Republicans’ baseless and unsubstantiated claims he accepted millions in bribe money when he was vice president.
Shouting “bribery allegations,” one reporter told the President, “Congresswoman Nancy Mace says there’s damning evidence in an FBI file that you sold out the country.”
As a smile worked its way across the President’s face, the reporter continued saying: “Do you have a response to congressional Republicans?”
The President did.
“Where’s the money?” he deadpanned.
“I’m joking,” he added.
READ MORE: Watch: Stunned Bill Barr Speechless After Fox Host Asks Why DOJ Is Pursuing Trump ‘In the Middle’ of an Election
“That’s a bunch of malarkey,” Biden ultimately responded, denying the claims which were fueled by FBI Director Chris Wray’s decision to allow the entire House Oversight Committee, in eluding far-right Republicans, access to an old FBI form documenting a second-hand tip alleging bribery.
NBC News Peter Alexander then threw a curious question at the President.
“Mr. President, what do you say to Americans to convince them that they should trust the independence and fairness of the Justice Department when your predecessor, Donald Trump, repeatedly attacks it?”
Biden quickly became less jovial.
READ MORE: SCOTUS ‘Surprise’ Voting Rights Decision Could – and Did – Have Big Implications for Democrats, Legal Experts Say
“Because you notice,” he said very seriously, pointing his finger at the reporter, “I have never once, not one single time, suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative bringing a charge or not bringing a charge.”
“I’m honest,” he stressed.
Foreign policy, national security, and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf responded to the video clip, stating: “Questions like these are not serious journalism.”
Watch below or at this link.
REPORTER: Nancy Mace says there’s evidence you sold out the country
JOE BIDEN: It’s a bunch of malarkey
REPORTER: What do you say to Americans to convince them that they should trust the fairness of the DOJ?
BIDEN: I haven’t once suggested what they should do. I’m honest. pic.twitter.com/TacFfZwFvG
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 8, 2023
Watch: Stunned Bill Barr Speechless After Fox Host Asks Why DOJ Is Pursuing Trump ‘In the Middle’ of an Election
Former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr, once one of the ex-president’s top defenders, appeared stunned and speechless Thursday afternoon when a Fox News host surprised him by asking why the U.S. Dept. of Justice is pursuing a criminal investigation against Trump over classified documents while he is running again for president.
“Why is this process happening so quickly in the middle of a presidential election?” Fox’s Martha MacCallum asked. She neglected to mention that Donald Trump reportedly announced his presidential campaign to avoid being charged.
Barr, who is on record stating he opposes Trump’s actions surrounding the hundreds of classified and top secret documents he likely unlawfully removed from the White House and refused to return, paused for several seconds before replying.
“Uh,” Barr finally replied, “This, this was a fairly simple case,” he said, appearing to defend DOJ.
READ MORE: SCOTUS ‘Surprise’ Voting Rights Decision Could – and Did – Have Big Implications for Democrats, Legal Experts Say
“The Mar-a-Lago case. This is a case that can be done relatively quickly, and that’s why I thought, it’s the main – because it’s a very limited question,” Barr explained, shifting gears. “It relates to, ah, one collection of documents and and why they weren’t given to the government once they were subpoenaed. And it’s a pretty simple case.”
Moving on, MacCallum asked, “And you believe that the charge will be obstruction, based on what you’ve said before?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Barr responded, seeming to not want to bet pinned down to an answer, “if I had to bet I think that that there’s going to be an indictment here on that basis, but it’s not going to be because he took the documents, or even had the documents for a while. I think it’s because they believe that he acted deceitfully once the government tried to get the documents back.”
On Tuesday, Barr spoke with CBS News to refute his ex-boss’s “witch hunt” claims, said the ex-president had “jerked” DOJ around over the hundreds of classified and top secret documents he refused to return, and added there was “no excuse” to do so.
READ MORE: Biden Launches Major Initiative to Protect LGBTQ Community Ahead of Massive White House Pride Celebration
Watch Barr below or at this link.
Fox’s Martha MacCallum asks why the Trump classified documents case is “happening so quickly in the middle of a presidential election.”
Former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr: “This was a fairly simple case.” pic.twitter.com/GkhPvvZEAE
— The Recount (@therecount) June 8, 2023
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