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Will Openly Gay Republican Fred Karger Run for President in 2012?


Fred Karger insists he has strong Republican credentials.

"I have a great credo as a Republican," he told CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder on Thursday's Washington Unplugged. "I've worked for President Reagan as a senior campaign consultant in 1980 and 1984. I've supported President George H. W. Bush. I've worked on nine presidential campaigns and this would be my tenth."

What's interesting is that this longtime Republican is openly gay and may also run for president in 2012.

"I will make a decision probably within the next several months," he told Ambinder. "I'm going to meet with some of my friends and advisers, and try to make a decision on whether or not to proceed. I'm testing the waters."

Karger wants voters to know this isn't a joke, and he has the credentials to back up his possible run. "I had two goals this year," he said. "One was to prove to people that this isn't a stunt. That if I do run this is very serious, and step two is to prove that I'm credible, and I think I've pretty well established that."

Karger is a passionate supporter and activist for the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy and other gay rights issues. Ambinder asked him how he would grade President Obama's performance when it comes to tackling gay rights issues.

"On gay, civil rights issues, things that's he's promised us, he gets a D at best," Karger replied, "I'm hoping this month, in lame duck, we'll get 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repealed."

He continued, "It's a no-brainer. It teaches younger people in this country discrimination; gay and straight. It's really a disgrace, and our country should be embarrassed."

The Republican also noted that President Obama doesn't have the energy and enthusiasm that he had as candidate Obama. "I think he's not happy," he said. "He seems depressed to me. His wife seems very depressed. I don't think they're having a very good time in this."

Karger's been well received in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he's taken a number of trips to test the waters and has even released two commercials. But not everyone has embraced him with open arms, including Iowa Republican National Committeeman Steve Schefler who, according to Karger, had less than kind words for him.

"He said, 'You and the radical homosexual community are not welcome in Iowa. I'm going to work overtime' -- and this was an interesting choice of words -- 'to abort your candidacy,'" Karger said, "I've tried to meet with him, I've tried to reach out to him. He's never even met me." A message left for Mr. Schefler was not immediately returned.

Regardless of the criticism, Karger is stepping into history if he ultimately decides to run. As he told Ambinder, "There's never been a gay person who's run for president of the United States before. There's great intrigue with that, and certainly in [Iowa and New Hampshire] they've been extremely courteous."

Watch Thursday's Washington Unplugged also featuring director and producer Doug Liman on his new film Fair Game, the real life tale of exposed CIA operative Valerie Plame, starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts.

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