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Skeptical that Romney campaign kept Grenell “under wraps” [UPDATED]

In all the pieces I read yesterday on the Grenell matter, three stand out, with Jennifer Rubin’s The lesson of the Grenell episode leading the pack.

The Huffington Post reporter Jon Ward, surprisingly enough, pretty accurately (and succinctly) summarized the tensions between Romney and social conservatives*:

Because of his Mormon faith and some moderate positions on social issues, Romney has never been popular with the conservative evangelical base of the Republican Party. Many conservatives say they will still vote for Romney because they so strongly oppose President Barack Obama. But this amounts to a fragile alliance between Romney and these voters.

So the Romney campaign had to tread carefully in defending its hiring of a man who was not only openly gay but who also had agitated publicly for Obama to reverse his opposition to gay marriage.

And on HotAir, Allahpundit denies that this was “some sort of anti-gay purge,” given that “Team Romney continues to praise Grenell publicly”:

. . . if this is . Here’s [Romney senior adviser Dan] Senor saying the campaign was lucky to have him and yesterday campaign manager Matt Rhoades issued a statement insisting that “We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill.” If you’re trying to placate social conservatives who object to Grenell’s hiring, that’s an odd way to do it.

Said blogger also addresses the issue of whether “Grenell was being kept ‘under wraps’ by the campaign”. I remain dubious of that claim, in part, because of the biases of those with access to the source (CNN, Huffington Post, Andrew Sullivan), but primarily because it doesn’t make sense.  As Allahpundit puts it:

Why try to turn down the heat over Grenell’s hiring by making him lie low when you could have turned him loose as an attack dog against Obama and won conservatives over that way? Unless I’m missing something, there have been no surprises about Grenell since he joined the campaign: He’s openly gay and was well known for being confrontational and sometimes snotty with his political opponents on Twitter.

If the campaign wanted to show that Grenell were more than just an advocate for gay marriage, that he was indeed (as he has long shown himself to be) an articulate defender of the conservative foreign principles which unite Republicans of all stripes, they would encourage him to speak out.

If thus the campaign had indeed silenced him, they blundered and significantly so.  They could have used his words to show that they had hired him to speak out on foreign policy issues, not gay ones.

(Had intended this post to be more comprehensive than it is, so will address the question of what more the campaign could have done — as well as consider Ward’s point that the campaign thought the flap had blown over in a subsequent post.)

*though he’s wrong to suggest evangelicals are the base of the GOP.  If they were, Romney wouldn’t be the presumptive nominee.

UPDATE/FROM THE COMMENTS:  Both Sonicfrog and rusty report that more details have emerged, with that latter naming the source:

But Richard Grenell, the political strategist who helped organize the call and was specifically hired to oversee such communications, was conspicuously absent, or so everyone thought.

It turned out he was at home in Los Angeles, listening in, but stone silent and seething. A few minutes earlier, a senior Romney aide had delivered an unexpected directive, according to several people involved in the call.

“Ric,” said Alex Wong, a policy aide, “the campaign has requested that you not speak on this call.” Mr. Wong added, “It’s best to lay low for now.”

Wonder who that senior aide was — and if he realizes how absurd his request was.  And whether higher-ups in the campaign were aware of this directive.  Methinks that aide should be taken to the woodshed.

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28 Comments

  1. “He’s openly gay and was well known for being confrontational and sometimes snotty with his political opponents on Twitter.”

    Did the “snotty” part strike anyone else as a stereotype? In my day, “campy” would have been used.

    Comment by TnnsNE1 — May 3, 2012 @ 9:14 am - May 3, 2012

  2. Why try to turn down the heat over Grenell’s hiring by making him lie low when you could have turned him loose as an attack dog against Obama and won conservatives over that way?

    I would like the muzzling story to be vetted and fleshed out more to see how valid it is. But there is an easy answer to to the question posed in the quote – the threats that several specific groups of the SoCon base had specifically stated to the Romney campaign that if Grenell emerged as an important part of the campaign team, that Romney would lose the support of the SoCon base. That is an immediate, very real threat to the prospect of wining in November, vs the long term “maybe” scenario painted by Allahpundit.

    Comment by sonicfrog — May 3, 2012 @ 9:49 am - May 3, 2012

  3. I still disagree with Allahpundit’s statement “If you’re trying to placate social conservatives who object to Grenell’s hiring, that’s an odd way to do it.”

    Social conservatives were OVERJOYED that Richard Grenell is no longer with the Romney campaign. Bryan Fischer at the American Family Association was excited yesterday with the news. He declared this an amazing “win for pro-family groups”, also stating that “Romney will never hire another homosexual again”.

    And Romney would have never condemned Grenell for being gay in public. The mainstream media would never have let him hear the end of it.

    I stand by my original belief that social conservatives were upset that Romney had hired an openly gay man to participate in his campaign, and that became the “distraction.”

    Romney placated the social conservatives by quietly suggesting to Grenell that he should go. While praising Grenell in public.

    But social conservatives are dancing in glee over this. They got exactly what they wanted. They’re also taking it as a positive sign that Romney will sign off on whatever anti-gay policies they want him to enact when he’s President.

    Comment by James — May 3, 2012 @ 11:07 am - May 3, 2012

  4. Yesterday saw the publication of several independent reports about Grenell being told not to speak during a conference call that he had set up. Do you doubt all of them?

    I think Romney and his staff were between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand they did want him to stay on, but on the other they saw what a certain element of their base was saying about him. It looks like they asked him to lie low in the hope that the uproar would blow over. I can respect Grenell for walking away; who wants to be treated as if they were radioactive?

    Comment by Tom1729 — May 3, 2012 @ 11:12 am - May 3, 2012

  5. Tom… I saw a few of those. The problem is, there is no verification that that was independently sourced. Most read like they were copied from the original story. You have to be very careful about mistaking repeated stories as independent secondary source confirmation.

    Comment by sonicfrog — May 3, 2012 @ 11:42 am - May 3, 2012

  6. I stand corrected. It looks like there is more independent confirmation.

    Comment by sonicfrog — May 3, 2012 @ 12:33 pm - May 3, 2012

  7. Sonic, I will remain skeptical until I see it more sources that the ones cited above.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 3, 2012 @ 12:48 pm - May 3, 2012

  8. Dan, why didn´t you use or excerpt the article I sent you on the 25th from Godfather.com, entitled Another Reason Why Romney Will Lose (hiring Grennell)? We/you should identify specifically those conservatives who are homophobic. Godfather pretends to represent conservative evangelicals. I personally feel that Richard did not voluntarily resign. He was forced into it. (It has happened to me.) ROMNEY CAVED!

    Comment by Roberto — May 3, 2012 @ 1:07 pm - May 3, 2012

  9. Roberto, do you have any evidence that Grenell was forced into it? Do you know him?

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 3, 2012 @ 1:18 pm - May 3, 2012

  10. The New York Times article is pretty detailed and confirms the other accounts I’ve read. And no, it’s not that it’s the Times that sways me, it’s the detailed independent confirmation.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — May 3, 2012 @ 1:21 pm - May 3, 2012

  11. Director of Foreign, Defense and Judicial Policy Alex Wong

    Formerly an associate at Covington & Burling.

    http://www.p2012.org/candidates/romneyorg

    It was the biggest moment yet for Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team: a conference call last Thursday, dialed into by dozens of news outlets from around the globe, to dissect and denounce President’s Obama record on national security.

    Enlarge This Image

    Osamu Honda/Associated Press

    Richard Grenell, left, in 2006, when he was an aide to John R. Bolton, right, then United States ambassador to the United Nations.

    Related

    Romney Foreign Policy Spokesman Quits (May 2, 2012)

    After Primary Losses, Legacies of Debt and Strained Reputations (May 3, 2012)

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    Taking Note: A ‘Huge Win’ for Homophobia (May 2, 2012)

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    But Richard Grenell, the political strategist who helped organize the call and was specifically hired to oversee such communications, was conspicuously absent, or so everyone thought.

    It turned out he was at home in Los Angeles, listening in, but stone silent and seething. A few minutes earlier, a senior Romney aide had delivered an unexpected directive, according to several people involved in the call.

    “Ric,” said Alex Wong, a policy aide, “the campaign has requested that you not speak on this call.” Mr. Wong added, “It’s best to lay low for now.”

    For Mr. Grenell, the message was clear: he had become radioactive.

    Comment by rusty — May 3, 2012 @ 1:32 pm - May 3, 2012

  12. oops

    Comment by rusty — May 3, 2012 @ 1:32 pm - May 3, 2012

  13. 11.Director of Foreign, Defense and Judicial Policy

    Alex Wong

    Formerly an associate at Covington & Burling.

    http://www.p2012.org/candidates/romneyorg

    It was the biggest moment yet for Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team: a conference call last Thursday, dialed into by dozens of news outlets from around the globe, to dissect and denounce President’s Obama record on national security.

    But Richard Grenell, the political strategist who helped organize the call and was specifically hired to oversee such communications, was conspicuously absent, or so everyone thought.

    It turned out he was at home in Los Angeles, listening in, but stone silent and seething. A few minutes earlier, a senior Romney aide had delivered an unexpected directive, according to several people involved in the call.

    “Ric,” said Alex Wong, a policy aide, “the campaign has requested that you not speak on this call.” Mr. Wong added, “It’s best to lay low for now.”

    For Mr. Grenell, the message was clear: he had become radioactive

    Comment by rusty — May 3, 2012 @ 1:34 pm - May 3, 2012

  14. Wonder who that senior aide was — and if he realizes how absurd his request was. And whether higher-ups in the campaign were aware of this directive. Methinks that aide should be taken to the woodshed.

    Why would you question whether this came from the very top? I mean, why wouldn’t the buck stop with Romney on this? He’s the one who decides to accept the resignation. Don’t we assume that of the current President on all sorts of scandals making the rounds? Secret Service hookers, Fast and Furious? Solyndra?

    Comment by Sonicfrog — May 3, 2012 @ 2:02 pm - May 3, 2012

  15. Ah, Sonic, Mittens is in a flurry right now. Deferring to this group and that group, that guy, a poll, and a big transition. He is preparing for one of the most demanding positions, not only on a national level but the world still looks to AMERICA for leadership. And the guy might defer to alot of different folk.

    Picture the time of Romney’s scheduler trying to manage all the handlers, wanna be handlers, and fielding calls from donors. . .blah blah blah. The great assimilation by the RNC. Resistance is futile.

    It is probably gonna help Romney to have these extra weeks to get things in a row, but I do agree with you. Mittens better step back and take things under control. Oh these extra weeks are also a blessing for Obama’s folk too.

    Comment by rusty — May 3, 2012 @ 2:12 pm - May 3, 2012

  16. Sonic, in the case of those scandals, national security was threatened, lives were lost and government money wasted.

    Here, we just see a campaign blunder, with significant consequences. The blunder doesn’t rise to the level of those scandals, so disciplining should be enough. Unless it is a repeat offense and the guy’s name is Fehrstrom.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 3, 2012 @ 2:12 pm - May 3, 2012

  17. [...] Skeptical that Romney campaign kept Grenell “under wraps” [UPDATED} [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Given that Romney campaign thought Grenell Flap Had “Blown Over,”Directive for foreign policy expert to remain silent makes no sense — May 3, 2012 @ 2:34 pm - May 3, 2012

  18. Actually, there’s a simpler explanation; Grenell was simply worn down by all the attacks the Obama campaign and its puppets were already launching on him, as conveniently listed here.

    From Joemygod on 4/20 (just the first few, it goes on for pages)

    * gay Republicans have the blood of dead teenagers on their hands.

    * Grenell is just another self-hating gay deluding himself (and as many others as possible) into thinking the Rethuggist Party is the great gay hope of the LGBT community. Does he think we’re that stupid to believe their BS?

    * as far as Im concerned this guy wrking for Romney is a TRAITOR!

    * I’m convinced gay republicans are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome

    * Ugh, he and GProud are just vile. Rich, usually white, fags who think; because they had a trust fund and went to college on daddy’s dime, being gay is a given and there’s no need to fight for anything. Pussies who have never had to fight for anything in their pampered little lives.

    * Maybe he and Scott Lively will join forces and lead a discussion on Uganda when Romney delivers the commencement speech at Liberty University this spring.

    From Towleroad on 4/20 – unlike Joemygod, Towelroad also had comments that were much more measured.

    * Wouldn’t that be kind of like David Duke hiring a black spokesperson? A pig with lipstick is still a pig.

    * F#ck him and every other gay republican.

    * Another Quisling.

    * Mikemick hit the nail on the head, the word of the day is “QUISLING”. Just a worthless piece of human garbage

    Bilerico had no comments that were simply spewing hate

    GoodAsYou only had one, kinda:

    * Grenell’s just an unprincipled man looking for excuses.

    At Pam’s House Blend it compounded like this:

    * Tell me again why would a gay man be a republican?
    * The wages and gratification from sucking the life force out of the masses.
    * See also: Cohn, Roy and Beebe, Lucius.
    * Nail + head.

    * Just another neo-mattachinistic accomodationistic “I have mine, too bad for you” elitist conservative–

    And from above we have

    * Grenell is a self-hating gay man.

    In short, Grenell was going to have his life made a living hell for the next six months at minimum, and much longer than that afterwards when Romney won. He was going to be socially ostracized, punished, screamed at, threatened, and the like by the leadership of the gay and lesbian community, the gay and lesbian media, and the mainstream media.

    There is no doubt in my mind that his life and his partner’s life were repeatedly threatened.

    Small wonder he chose to resign. And small wonder gays like the bigot James are pissing and screaming themselves blind trying to spin away from their own words and deeds.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — May 3, 2012 @ 3:12 pm - May 3, 2012

  19. Sonic, in the case of those scandals, national security was threatened, lives were lost and government money wasted.

    Dan, it’s not the magnitude of the scandal, it’s the basic notion that the buck stops at the top. And as far as the campaign to be elected to the Presidency of the United States, these kinds of things ARE as important in that regard as the Presidential scandals, as Romney’s chances of actually getting elected hing on the way these kinds of things are handled. Everything is do or die.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — May 3, 2012 @ 5:09 pm - May 3, 2012

  20. Ooops…. Should have been “Everything is Do Right or Die”.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — May 3, 2012 @ 5:10 pm - May 3, 2012

  21. Sonic, here we disagree. I don’t think heads should necessarily roll. This is a mistake, not calling for firing, but one which should serve as, to borrow an expression, a “teachable moment.” :-)

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 3, 2012 @ 5:45 pm - May 3, 2012

  22. In short, Grenell was going to have his life made a living hell for the next six months at minimum, and much longer than that afterwards when Romney won.

    If comments like those from liberal blogs was going to make Grenell’s life a “living hell,” then perhaps Grenell did the right thing. Yes, some of those comments were nasty and unwarranted, but not unually cruel for political campaigns.

    In other words, I doubt this is what caused the resignation. We may not know all the details, but it is clear that this was either really a personal decision, or Republican strategists and/or Romney thought it was best for Romney’s campaign that he resign.

    Comment by Pat — May 3, 2012 @ 6:56 pm - May 3, 2012

  23. NDXXX, as to the “living hell” issue, please keep your eyes on the blog when I address this. FYI, i have suspicion (based on my experience as a blogger) that he received a good deal of hate mail, from gay lefties as well as social conservatives shortly after his appointment generated headlines. And I’m trying to confirm my hunch.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 3, 2012 @ 6:59 pm - May 3, 2012

  24. Sonic, here we disagree. I don’t think heads should necessarily roll.

    I never suggested that “heads should roll”. I just think, ultimately, the reality is that this negative (well, depending on where you sit) is ultimately on Romney’s shoulders. I also do note that, just like the Bin Laden take-down anniversary, this will be a non-issue by the end of the month.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — May 3, 2012 @ 7:23 pm - May 3, 2012

  25. Maybe then, our views are closer than I had thought, Sonic. :-)

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 3, 2012 @ 7:32 pm - May 3, 2012

  26. All politics is transitory!

    OK. I have no idea exactly what that means… But it sounds good, and that’s all that matter in politics!!!! :-)

    Comment by Sonicfrog — May 4, 2012 @ 1:42 am - May 4, 2012

  27. Dan,

    Did you read the article from Godfather.com? No I don´t know him nor do I have proof. When I receive the next edition from Godfathe, if he takes credit for it I will forward. My first job, after I mustered out of the Army, (Viet Nam era), was assistant manager of a chain restaurant in New York. When I carelessly dropped a hairpin, the district manager gave me a choice; be fired or resign and receive a good recommendation.

    Comment by Roberto — May 4, 2012 @ 12:27 pm - May 4, 2012

  28. [...] party’s own awkwardness on gay issues (for more on that, just read the passage I quoted in this post from the Huffington Post‘s Jon [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Had Obama moved forward on same-sex civil unions when his party had majorities in both houses of Congress, he might not be facing outcry over his gay marriage stand today — May 8, 2012 @ 6:54 pm - May 8, 2012

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