Richard Grenell is resigning from Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign less than two weeks after being hired.
The foreign policy spokesman came under fire for some crude (and since deleted) tweets about various prominent women. He also drew criticism from some social conservatives for being openly gay.
Today was supposed to be Grenell’s first day.
Grenell explained his decision in a statement obtained by the Post’s Right Turn blog, which broke the story. He said that while his sexuality “was a non-issue” for Romney’s team, he struggled in the face of a ”hyperpartisan discussion of personal issues.”
“We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons,” said Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades. “We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill.”
One adviser to Romney added that “every indication is that the decision” was made by Grenell himself. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton was among those who tried to convince him to stay.
Grenell is perhaps best known for being George W. Bush ’s top spokesman at the United Nations, serving under Ambassadors Bolton, John Negroponte , John Danforth and Zalmay Khalilzad .
But he had a reputation as a polarizing figure among press who worked with him in the past, with some U.N. reporters describing Grenell as overbearing and untrustworthy.
After he was hired by Romney and drew scrutiny for some of his past comments about Callista Gingrich and Michelle Obama, among others, Grenell deleted over 800 tweets from his account and took down his personal website.
He was hired through the policy side of the campaign — not the political side, where a different level of vetting occurs.
It’s not clear which “personal issues” caused Grenell to resign. Some supporters of President Obama’s campaign have decided it was his sexual orientation.
“Today we learned that in the year 2012, a Republican nominee for President can't have a gay person as spokesman,” wrote Obama Digital Director Teddy Goff on Twitter. “This is the kind of bigoted, anti-gay extremists a Romney administration would find itself held hostage to,” added pro-Obama super PAC founder Bill Burton. “After a brief and wondrous moratorium, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell once again firmly in place inside the Romney campaign,” said former White House speechwriter Jon Lovett.
“Ric was essentially hounded by the far right and far left,” said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper in a statement.
Grenell’s full statement:
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.
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