After I criticized GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger last week for what appeared to be a Mormon-baiting approach to the 2012 race, yesterday, I was able to speak with Karger himself about his strategy.
JB: I said you were “vain and foolish” to think that running for president to embarrass Mitt Romney was an effective way to combat homophobia. Tell me why I’m wrong.
FK: Well, that’s not exactly my strategy. There are two reasons I can be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. One is that I’m historic now that I’ve filed as the first openly gay presidential candidate in history. Number two, my aggressiveness as a watchdog on the LDS Church’s involvement in Proposition 8 gives me added prominence because the track record of Romney’s faith is an issue. But that is not really why I am running. I am running to be a strong advocate for the gay community and I want to slow down the rhetoric Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, and the rest of them are saying about my community.
JB: So just by being in the race–for example, just being on stage at a candidate’s debate–you want to hold the entire Republican field accountable for its homophobia.
FK: Yes, and I am getting national coverage. I did my first MSNBC inverview this morning. It was all about Mitt Romney and the LDS Church and Proposition 8; that’s what the Tablet interview covered. But that’s not really the topic of my speeches. That’s not my main message.
JB: The Tablet article really did focus in on your involvement in documenting the LDS Church’s donations to the Yes on 8 campaign. I gather you’d like to present yourself more broadly.
FK: I’m not anti-Mormon. I’m not anti-religion. But Mitt Romney as the most influential member of his faith can use his influence to get his church out of the anti-gay marriage business. When he did his book tour at [LDS Church-owned] Deseret Bookstores a year ago, I ran advertisements: “Please get your church out of the marriage equality business.” If it’s between stopping gay marriage and getting a president, I think the church would rather have a president. There’s so many wonderful things the LDS Church does. Why focus on gay marriage?
JB: You’re certainly not alone in asking that question. But is your goal to single out Romney the example of bad politics on gay issues?
FK: No. Take a look at the Guardian today, where I go after Mike Huckabee. Romney personally I don’t have a beef with. But someone like Mike Huckabee who compares gay marriage to incest and drug abuse? So I took him on in the Guardian. And to Michelle Bachmann, I’d say the same: lay off my community, stop demonizing these young people who are killing themselves.
JB: So you’re an equal opportunity watchdog.