With a sparkling blue Pacific Ocean backdrop at his Laguna Beach house before sunset tonight, Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger delighted a politically diverse crowd with his trademark humor and determination to make gay and lesbian equality an acceptable stance within the GOP during the 2012 race for the White House.
Given the likes of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, Karger--once a senior campaign aide to President Ronald Reagan--knows he has an uphill battle. But he told supporters that he remains enthusiastic that his underdog campaign can impact the public debate. If nothing else, he said his optimistic message is to youth, especially gay youth, that anybody can run for president and make a positive difference.
Hollywood actor/Versace model Rib Hillis (Port Charles, Ugly Betty and CSI Miami), the guest of honor at the gathering, said he has liberal leanings, but is impressed by Karger's political stances as well as his vocal opposition to California's anti-gay marriage Prop. 8.
"I think Fred is a candidate who can be attractive to Republicans and Democrats and I like his positive message," said Hillis, who attended the event with his gorgeous Russian-born girlfriend, Elena Grinenko of Dancing With The Stars fame.
Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman, a Democrat, also attended with a mostly Republican crowd and praised Karger for his political "bravery."
"I respect Fred so much for what he is doing," said Iseman.
Karger, who was profiled in a June 2 OC Weekly cover story, worked for decades as a closeted gay man for powerful Republican politicians and came out of the closet about seven years ago when he retired from political consulting. Then, as is apparently required of newly out gay people, he entered the campaign to be the next president of the United States.
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Actually, in fairness, Karger first led the effort to save the Boom Boom Room, a gay bar/restaurant/hotel in Laguna Beach, from developers who wanted to destroy the historic landmark.
And, unlike the last two Orange County figures to run for president: Larry Agran (in 1992) and Robert K. Dornan (in 1996), Karger's having fun doing it.
You can visit his presidential campaign website HERE.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly