Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Gay GOP Republican prez candidate seeks help to meet South Carolina debate entrance fee

Fred Karger may get some major television face time next month if he can meet the requirements to take part in what is shaping up to be the first presidential debate among the GOP candidates.

Karger, a southern California gay activist and former Republican campaign consultant, received an official invite this week to take part in the May 5 “First in the South” debate hosted by the South Carolina Republican Party and Fox News Channel. He is the third person from the left in the photo-shopped picture above that his campaign team created.

“We hope you will be part of this truly historic event,” wrote Joel Sawyer, executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, in an email sent to Karger Wednesday, April 20.

Karen Floyd, the chair of the South Carolina Republican Party, added, “We look forward to your participation in the First-In-The-South Republican Party Presidential Candidates Debate.”

The debate is set to take place from 9 to 10:30 p.m. at the Peace Center for Performing Arts in Greenville, South Carolina. It will be televised live by Fox News and will be moderated by veteran Fox News anchor and award winning journalist Bret Baier.

“I am honored to be invited to participate in the debate that helped catapult my old boss Ronald Reagan to the Presidency in 1980,” stated Karger in an email his campaign sent out Thursday, April 21. “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 Karger does take part, it would mark the first time an openly gay presidential candidate has appeared on stage at a debate alongside their party’s main contenders.

“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,” stated Karger. “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.”

But there is no guarantee that Karger will be there. He must first meet several criteria that could prove to be too challenging to overcome.

First off, he needs to raise $25,000 to pay for the filing fee to take part in the debate. His campaign has launched a fundraising drive where people can donate online at the website Let Fred In.

The state party also requires the debate participants to have garnered at least an average of 1 percent in 5 national polls based on the most recent polling leading up to the registration deadline. That could prove impossible for Karger, as voters have yet to be asked about him.

“To our knowledge my name has not been included in any polls as of yet,” stated Karger in the email. “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.”

Karger plans to meet with state party officials in South Carolina this week to clarify the polling stipulation and other questions he has about the participation requirements. He is also campaigning in the Palmetto State, with stops at the University of South Carolina at Columbia and Charleston to meet with South Carolina Log Cabin Republicans.

“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,” stated Karger. “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.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, April 21, 2011 @ 2:57 pm PST
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