Richard Grenell, the gay man hired last month to serve as Mitt Romney’s campaign spokesman on foreign policy, has resigned after receiving sharp criticism from antigay conservatives.
“My ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign,” Grenell (pictured, right) said in a statement issued today to The Washington Post. “I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.”
It was not, though, for many social conservatives. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association tweeted that by hiring Grenell, Republican presidential candidate Romney was telling so-called pro-family activists to “drop dead.” In follow-up columns, he wrote that Grenell’s appointment was a “dog-whistle to the homosexual lobby, a way of saying to them I’m with you, not with them” and “all about homosexuality, not foreign policy.”
Last week in the conservative publication National Review, Matthew J. Franck questioned Grenell’s loyalty to Romney, writing, “Suppose Barack Obama comes out — as Grenell wishes he would — in favor of same-sex marriage in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. How fast and how publicly will Richard Grenell decamp from Romney to Obama?”
The Post reports that Romney staffers tried to dissuade Grenell from resigning, and campaign manager Matt Rhoades told the paper, “We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons. We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill.”
Meanwhile, Log Cabin Republicans executive director R. Clarke Cooper issued this statement to The Advocate: “Ric made the choice that he feels is best for the Romney campaign, and I respect his decision. It is unfortunate that while the Romney campaign made it clear that Grenell being an openly gay man was a non-issue for the governor and his team, the hyper-partisan discussion of issues unrelated to Ric's national security qualifications threatened to compromise his effectiveness on the campaign trail. Ric was essentially hounded by the cacophony of the far right and left. The Romney campaign has lost a well-known advocate of conservative ideas and a talented spokesman, but I am confident Ric will remain an active voice for a confident U.S. foreign policy.”