Richard Grenell, the openly gay spokesman recently hired to sharpen the foreign policy message of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has resigned in the wake of a full-court press by anti-gay conservatives.
In a statement obtained by Right Turn, Grenell says:
I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, 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. 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.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Grenell decided to resign after being kept under wraps during a time when national security issues, including the president’s ad concerning Osama bin Laden, had emerged front and center in the campaign.
Pieces in two conservative publications, the National Review and Daily Caller, reflected the uproar by some social conservatives over the appointment. [UPDATE, 4:30 p.m.: Although Grenell also raised the ire of liberal commentators with now-deleted tweets about certain prominent women, none of the sources I spoke with mentioned the tweets as a factor in his resignation decision.]
In the National Review, Matthew J. Franck wrote late last week: “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 argument that Grenell could essentially not be openly gay and serve on a GOP presidential campaign was belied by the fact that Grenell has been a loyal Republican for many years, working for esteemed foreign policy figures including former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.
The ongoing pressure from social conservatives over his appointment and the reluctance of the Romney campaign to send Grenell out as a spokesman while controversy swirled left Grenell essentially with no job. The Romney camp has not responded to my request for comment.
UPDATE (3:10 p.m.): The Romney camp has now responded via campaign manager Matt Rhoades: “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.”
That is a perhaps too subtle retort to those calling for Grenell’s head, that he was not hired to advise on gay issues but on foreign policy matters.
UPDATE (3:50 p.m.): Right Turn has learned from multiple sources that the senior officials from the Romney campaign and respected Republicans not on the campaign contacted Ric Grenell over the weekend in an attempt to persuade him not to leave the campaign. Those were unsuccessful. During the two weeks after Grenell’s hiring was announced the Romney campaign did not put Grenell out to comment on national security matters and did not use him on a press foreign policy conference call. Despite the controversy in new media and in conservative circles, there was no public statement of support for Grenell by the campaign and no supportive social conservatives were enlisted to calm the waters. Beyond his statement, Grenell has declined further comment today.