Mitt Romney isn't taking any of the blame for the resignation of the gay spokesman who was driven out of the campaign by backlash from social conservatives.
Romney said during an interview on Fox & Friends today that Richard Grenell, a former member of the Bush administration, would have been a "capable individual" on issues of national security, for which he would have been the candidate's official spokesman.
"He is a very accomplished spokesperson," Romney said. "And we select people not based upon their ethnicity or their sexual preference or their gender but upon their capability."
Romney's use of the word "preference" notwithstanding, he claimed that Grenell was asked to stay by high-ranking members of his campaign — although he doesn't include himself on that list.
"We wanted him to stay with our team," Romney said. "We are sorry to have him go, and actually a whole series of the senior people on my team and my supporters called him and encouraged him to stay, but he expressed a desire to move on, and I wish him the very best."
The New York Times reported that Grenell was fuming after senior campaign aides ordered him not to speak during a conference call with reporters about national security — his territory as spokesman. The Times says they wanted him to lie low while anger from social conservatives subsided about Romney's selection of a gay man to work on the campaign. And Grenell had become the subject of stories about his history of inflammatory Twitter postings that he later removed for being offensive.
Watch Romney's explanation below.