PHOTOS, VIDEO: Rick Santorum in N. Texas

Rick Santorum speaks at Fairview Farms in Plano on Wednesday night. (Photos by Patrick Hoffman/Special to the Voice)

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum rolled into Plano on Wednesday night for a campaign rally at Fairview Farms — a corral barn normally rented out for parties — in a Central Expressway mini mall next door to Party City and Duke’s Roadhouse.

In the 41-degree weather, a mostly white crowd in coats and knit caps stood huddled outside the Fairview entrances, standing on tip-toe, angling their cameras in the air and peering through window lattices to get a peek at the Pennsylvania senator.

WBAP Talk radio host Mark Davis, who hosted the rally, announced: “I am not here to introduce to you the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I’m here to introduce to you the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.” (Incidentally, Davis was recently a guest speaker at a meeting of Metroplex Republicans of Dallas, a gay GOP group.)

It seemed oddly fitting that Santorum should spill into Plano the day after his ideological opposite, Dan Savage, spoke at the University of North Texas’ 12th Annual Equity and Diversity Conference. Nine years ago, after Santorum compared homosexual relationships to bestiality, Savage led a successful campaign to redefine Santorum’s surname to mean a frothy by-product of anal sex. Both men call the others’ action vulgar.

“He’s not running for president,” Savage told Dallas Voice last week. “He’s running for a Fox News contract just like [Mike] Huckabee.”

—  Daniel Villarreal

NBC does its part to save us from Trump

Donald Trump

This morning NBC announced its new fall line-up, which includes The Celebrity Apprentice. The show’s host, Donald Trump, announced he’s not running for president during NBC’s “upfronts,” the announcement of the new season.

Trump said the decision wasn’t easily made, “especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.” However, Trump never seemed serious. In earlier statements, he made his priorities clear when he said he would make no announcement before the end of the Celebrity Apprentice season because of his contract with NBC.

Since the White House Correspondents Dinner where President Barack Obama and Seth Meyers made Trump the butt of many of the evening’s jokes, Trump has lost 10 points in most polls. Ratings on his show plummeted. Before Trump’s announcement, NBC said (threatened?) that his show could continue with a different host.

—  David Taffet

Openly gay candidate Fred Karger is 1st Republican to file to run for president in 2012

Fred Karger

Fred Karger, an openly gay Republican, this morning became the first person to file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2012.

He becomes the first openly gay candidate to ever run for president.

Karger has worked on a variety of Republican campaigns including Reagan-Bush in 1984. From 1977 until he retired in 2004, he was vice president of the Dolphin Group, a political consulting company.

In 2008, he founded and became co-director of Californians Against Hate in reaction to Proposition 8. He filed formal ethics violation complaints leading to investigations of the Mormon Church and the National Organization for Marriage in California and Maine. He organized four boycotts of companies that donated more than $100,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign.

Karger doesn’t expect to do well among religious conservatives, but his strategy is to win in early primary and caucus states New Hampshire and Iowa. Both of those states have large numbers of independent voters and both have legalized same-sex marriage.

By this time in the 2008 campaign cycle, at least a dozen candidates had announced that they were running in the two parties. Yesterday, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced he was forming an exploratory committee, the first step in becoming a candidate. He is the only candidate other than Karger to formalize his plans.

Other Republicans have indicated that they are deciding whether to run, but no others have announced. Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee said he would have to walk away from a lucrative deal with Fox to run. Donald Trump said he’s considering a run but due to contractual constraints, he can’t make an announcement until the season of The Apprentice ends.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are also potential candidates. Jimmy McMillan, the New Yorker who ran for mayor on the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, said he plans to run as a Republican.

Although Karger is the first openly gay man to run for president, James Buchanan, the 15th president, is the only one to have never married and was probably gay. He lived with Franklin Pierce’s Vice President Rufus King whose nicknames were Aunt Fancy, Miss Nancy and Mrs. Buchanan. King died while in office. Nieces of the two men destroyed their correspondence after their deaths so little written evidence of their relationship remains.

—  David Taffet

Poll: Gov. Perry, President Obama tied in Texas

Gov. Rick Perry

If Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry runs for president, he may have a hard time winning his own state.

A hypothetical matchup between Perry and President Barack Obama shows them tied in Texas, with each capturing 45 percent of the would-be vote, according to a survey conducted earlier this month by Public Policy Polling.

Perry faired the worst of several Republicans who were pitted against Obama in hypothetical matchups, according to the Texas Tribune:

Former Alaska Gov. and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin would beat Obama in Texas by just a single point, 47 percent to 46 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads Obama in Texas 49 to 42, while former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich leads the presdient 48 to 43. The Republican who fares best against Obama in Texas is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who trounces him 55 to 39.

In other polling news, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney easily won the first presidential straw ballot of the 2012 cycle, capturing 35 percent of the vote among New Hampshire Republicans. Texas Congressman Ron Paul finished second with 11 percent, followed by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty with 8 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with 7 percent. Gov. Perry was not included in the poll.


—  John Wright