Californians Against Hate targets Mitt Romney tour
Protest draws local San Diegans
Published Thursday, 01-Apr-2010 in issue 1162
The “Call Mitt Romney” campaign, led by Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, expanded its campaign this week by placing ads in various newspapers across the country to follow the former Massachusetts governor on a book tour.
The campaign, which started last January, asks Mitt Romney, an influential member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly referred to as the Mormon Church, to persuade church leaders to end their active financial involvement in opposing same-sex marriage legislation. According to Californians Against Hate, the LDS Church and its members have spent tens of millions of dollars in 31 states to ban same-sex marriage.
“I think Mitt Romney, more than anyone in the country, has the influence and the power, which we need to get them to back away,” Karger said.
The ads, placed in various publications, ask readers to call the former governor and “Ask him to urge the Mormon Church to stop its nasty campaign to ban gay marriage.”
Karger said he thought of the idea for the ad campaign in May of 2009 after reading a story in The Washington Post detailing ads his organization placed in New England newspapers called, “The Mormons Are Coming.”
The ads focused on the LDS Church’s involvement with Proposition 8, the ban that prevents same-sex couples from marrying in California, and warned New England residents of the alleged tactics the church used to secure the ban.
“I was thinking as I read it, if I were managing Mitt Romney’s campaign, and was trying to distance him from the Mormon Church, it would be the worst possible scenario to have this church in the news,” Karger said.
Karger has a history in political public relations. For more than 30 years, Karger worked as a political consultant before retiring and becoming an activist. Karger mentioned the 2012 election and how he thinks Romney will run for president.
“As his campaign manager, I would ask Mitt Romney to call the Mormon Church and say, ‘Hey this is going to harm my campaign.’”
Karger also said he thinks the LDS Church supports Romney’s potential presidential bid and should be more cognizant of its public image.
“If it comes down to one of two choices, stopping same-sex marriage or having a Mormon president, I think they would opt for the president,” Karger added.
Karger said he is not sure if Romney will respond to the ads and affirmed that Romney has said he will not talk about same-sex marriage.
“In his potential campaign for president, he’s going to have to discuss his church’s involvement in taking over the anti-same-sex marriage effort,” Karger said.
On March 22, Karger and approximately a dozen protesters marched through a mall in La Jolla to protest Romney’s book signing at Deseret Bookstore.
Karger said as he and his band of protesters, including a bag-pipe player, one of Karger’s trademark techniques, attended the protest.
“We marched through the mall right by the crowd of people waiting for the book signing and it was interesting,” Karger said. “First they saw the crowd and heard the bag pipe music, then when they realized what we were doing, there was shock and awe. They were just so shocked by the fact that this was going on. It was one of the most awkward times of my life as we walked through hundreds of people, who I’m sure were mostly members of this church.”
Karger said the protest, which brought about a dozen local San Diegans, created “the most hostile, awkward, awful feeling.”
“There were so many emotions going on but the response was ice-cold,” he said.
“We received a number of cars honking their support as they drove by,” said protester Dan Ness. “We also saw one elderly woman flip us off as she drove by with a Romney sticker on her car.”
Ness said the protest was successful because media attention given to the event caused their message to be received by more people than those that drove by.
“I was proud to be a part of the protest and stand up for our rights,” Ness said. “I think it is important to be seen and heard and to let people know who we are and what we are trying to achieve.”
The first ads ran last January in the New Hampshire Union-Leader, The Boston Globe, and The Salt Lake City Tribune exactly two years before the first-in-the-nation Presidential primary in Romney’s adopted state of New Hampshire.
According to The Orlando Sentinel, the ad got four times as many hits for national ads and twice as many hits for local ads.
Last week, The San Diego-Tribune, La Jolla Light and the Gay & Lesbian Times ran the ad to correspond with Romney’s visit to the La Jolla bookstore.
When contacted for comment, the LDS Church was critical of Karger and his campaign.
“Fred Karger is entitled to his opinion but not to his own version of the facts,” said LDS Church spokesperson Kim Farah.
Karger said next month more ads will follow the former governor on his campaign in the Los Angeles suburb of Claremont, Vero Beach, Fla. and Nashville, Tenn.
Free Strong America, the Mitt Romney Political Action Committee, were contacted for comment but did not respond before this story went to press.
For more information on the Californians Against Hate campaign, visit www.rightsequalrights.com. To contact Mitt Romney’s office, call 781-325-1741 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.