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Republican and Gay-Rights Activist Gears up for a Presidential Run

The ink is barely dry on the midterm election ballots, but the 2012 presidential campaign is already officially underway. One Republican has launched an exploratory committee, released a presidential campaign ad, and even paid a visit to Iowa, the first state to hold a presidential caucus every election. That Republican is Fred Karger.

Fred who, you ask?

That's exactly why he's starting so early. Nobody knows who he is.

Karger is a former aide to President Ronald Reagan and describes himself as an "independent Republican." He's also openly gay, and his platform mostly centers around gay-rights issues, like ending the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy and legalizing gay marriage. Karger founded "Californians Against Hate," a group that encouraged Californians to vote against Proposition 8, which effectively banned gay marriage in the state. Proposition 8 passed in 2008.

Karger released his presidential campaign ad this week, in which he's seen strolling through what appears to be an Iowa fair - introducing himself, shaking hands, handing out frisbees, and generally trying to spread his name around.

"Before I run for president, I need your help," Karger says in the ad. "I'm testing the waters in Iowa to see if I can raise some funds from my friends."

Karger faces a steep challenge indeed - without name recognition, fundraising for a presidential campaign will likely prove daunting. Although he worked as a political consultant for years, Karger has never held elected office - but paints himself as a "true outsider" trying to change the system.

"I'm concerned that the partisan rancor's only going to continue and get in the way of our country's progress," he says in the ad.

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