Fred Karger huddled in the closet for his entire 30-year career as a political strategist, keeping his sexuality a secret as he worked on nine presidential campaigns, including those of Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush. The 61-year-old Republican—who came out five years ago and is the first openly gay person to file with the FEC to run for president—says he is running not because he thinks he can win, but because he wants to send a message to young people that they don't have to live their lives the way he did.
"I always wanted to run for office but knew I never could, just as I could never have a family," he tells the Los Angeles Times. "When you're gay and in the closet, you learn there are lots of things you can't do." Karger says his goal is to be able to take part in a debate—he'd like a word with Mitt Romney, for example, about the Mormon Church's backing of Prop 8. But though Karger passed the Fox News criteria of scoring above 1% in five national polls, his campaign says, he wasn't invited to join the Iowa debate Thursday night.