— -- Although Mitt Romney has virtually locked up the Republican presidential nomination and all of his serious challengers have conceded the race, presidential candidate Fred Karger is still out on the trail campaigning.
Karger, a gay Republican running an issues-based campaign to change attitudes within the GOP about same-sex marriage, took his efforts last week to Utah, which holds the nation's last primary election, on June 26.
Karger spent four days in the state, meeting with local Republican leaders and urging the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to stop funding efforts against gay marriage. (Prior to launching his presidential bid, Karger founded a group called "Californians Against Hate," which focused on Mormon involvement in the campaign to pass Proposition 8, a ballot initiative passed in 2008 that continued California's prohibition on same-sex marriage.)
During his visit to Utah, Karger met with Washington County Republican Party Chairman Willie Billings, who Karger said was "welcoming" and "friendly." After their meeting, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, Karger gave Billings some campaign paraphernalia, including a Frisbee and a T-Shirt. When Billings brought the souvenirs home, however, his wife, Nanette Billings, threw them in the garbage and fired off an email to Karger, calling him "a radical idiot" and saying "thank goodness" he "cant procreate."
Billings confirmed that she sent the email through Karger's website.
"My feeling is the only reason he's running for president is to find more [sexual] partners," Nanette Billings told Yahoo News in a phone interview. "To get more people on his bandwagon."
"All I did was go on his site and say, 'You're pathetic,'" she said. "We're a very conservative state in Utah, very family-oriented. So he's picked a state just to cause ruckus. He's not thinking of family, he's thinking of himself. He's not running for president to fix something in the country—he's thinking of his own personal agenda, period. And I was just letting him know that I think he's an idiot to think of running."
Karger said he was shocked, but that the email underscores the reason he traveled to Utah in the first place.
"This is what the Mormon church preaches to its members," Karger said in an interview with Yahoo News. "This is not some isolated woman in Utah."