Just learned that Richard Grenell, the Romney campaign’s foreign policy spokesman has stepped down. And also learned that he “was in the process of moving from Los Angeles to Boston.” Didn’t know he was out here. Although we are both gay conservatives, our paths have not crossed.
According to Jennifer Rubin who broke the story, Grenell issued this statement earlier today:
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.
It is unfortunate that certain social conservatives made much of Grenell’s sexuality. Rubin finds that Romney camp’s expression of disappointment on the resignation serves as “a subtle retort to those calling for Grenell’s head, that he was not hired to advise on gay issues but on foreign policy matters.” Emphasis added. (Read the whole thing.)
Just because you hire a gay man for a job doesn’t mean you support the agenda of the left-wing gay groups.
And just because Grenell shares Mitt Romney’s foreign policy goals doesn’t mean the two men see eye to eye on every issue. It is thus absurd to think, as one social conservative quoted in Rubin’s piece suggests, that Grenell might “decamp from Romney to Obama” should that latter come out in favor of federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Does he really think gay people are so shallow that we’d back a candidate just because he has a better record on gay issues even when we disagree with him on nearly every other issue?
Rubin reports that the Romney campaign wanted to keep him on.
Media coverage, however, made Grenell’s personal life rather than his experience and foreign policy credentials the focus in stories about his appointment. It’s not just social conservatives who are to blame. The media are also to blame for sensationalizing this.
That said, social conservatives’ choice to focus on an aspect of Grenell’s private life irrelevant to his capacity to serve must have made this a trying time for this supremely qualified conservative.
Allahpundit offers an interesting observation:
From National Journal: “A source close to the Romney campaign denied that Grenell resigned because of complaints about his sexual orientation. Rather, the source said, Grenell had become a story himself, which a spokesman should never do.”
Even so, he points out that “some prominent social cons. . . objected to Grenell’s hiring”:
Tony Perkins’s Family Research Council criticized Romney for it here (scroll down) and both Gary Bauer and Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center have complained about it. Did any one of them turn up the pressure on Romney privately?
Grenell’s sexual orientation is irrelevant to his ability to serve as Romney’s foreign policy spokesman. Heck, he’s worked in a similar capacity for other prominent–and respected–conservatives for years. And he didn’t leave his party even as gay groups demonized Republicans. And even when a Republican president came out in support of an amendment which would enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in the federal constitution.
This is not one of the Republican Party’s best days.
NB: Tweaked the post to make the parts just before the “jump” clearer.