Fred Karger, Gay Republican, Airs 2012 Presidential Ad

Fred Karger, a now-openly gay Republican and former Ronald Reagan aide, is running an ad in Iowa to drum up support for a possible 2012 presidential bid. It's the first presidential ad to air in Iowa, home of the opening presidential caucuses.

The 90-second ad will air twice a day on Fox News for one week throughout the state, according to the Atlantic.

In the ad, Karger calls himself an "independent Republican" who has supported both Republicans and Democrats and has fought for civil rights.

"I'm concerned that the partisan rancor is only going to continue and get in the way of our country's progress," Karger says. "I learned from my mentor Ronald Reagan the importance of getting along."

He says he is "seriously considering" running for president in 2012 and urges Iowans to donate to his campaign. Karger, who previously aired a one-minute ad in New Hampshire, seeks to raise $5 million, the Atlantic reports.

The retired political consultant has never held elected office and acknowledged at a press conference today that his possible candidacy is "a little presumptuous," Radio Iowa reports.

Karger said he is researching legal strategies for securing a spot on stage during the early televised primary debates, which he said would represent a "victory."

He also reportedly acknowledged the uphill battle he faces as a gay Republican.

"As I look at the Republican Party membership here (in Iowa) and I've seen polls, you know, 80 percent self-identify evangelical, and I don't know how open they are initially to an openly gay candidate if I do decide to run," he said.

Karger said he aimed to emulate groundbreaking political candidates like Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American to run for president, and to make the Republican party more open to gays, Radio Iowa reports.

"I'm a fighter. I'm fighting for millions of people around this country who are members of my community and so many others who are deemed second class citizens," Karger said. "We will no longer accept that classification."

Karger will appear on CBSNews.com's daily webshow "Washington Unplugged" next Thursday, Dec. 2. "Washington Unplugged" airs daily on CBSNews.com at 12:30 p.m. ET.



Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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