Conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin:
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. [...]
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. [...]
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.
The title of this post is a little vague. If Grenell was driven off Romney’s team, then who did the driving?
The title of Rubin’s post is “Richard Grenell hounded from Romney campaign by anti-gay conservatives,” and that’s a fair enough take on it. But I think that Grenell, a longtime Republican activist, knew from the start that some prominent conservatives, from the religious right to the National Review, would oppose his appointment. Grenell was fully prepared to take some flack.
It’s more likely that what Grenell couldn’t stand was being kept in the closet (pun intended) by the Romney campaign. Romney could have put Grenell out there on the Sunday morning shows and other gabfests and let Grenell do his job: Talking right-wing foreign policy. (A job that Grenell could have done well, and certainly better than Romney himself.) Instead, Romney chose to let right-wing anti-gays intimidate his campaign. Romney, typically, was trying to have it both ways; keeping Grenell on staff as his foreign policy spokesman (demonstrating to independent voters that Romney is not anti-gay), but not actually allowing Grenell to act as a spokesman (to placate the right wing).
I think Grenell understandably found that to be an impossible situation.
I think Grenell was driven off Romney’s team not by the entirely predictable whines of the anti-gay activists, but by Romney’s cowardly refusal to let Grenell do his job.
Although this episode usefully demonstrates how intolerant the GOP is, and how much Romney will bow to the far right, I’m not happy about it. There is a significant chance that Romney will be the next president; whoever replaces Grenell will no doubt be generally as right-wing as Grenell himself, but unlike Grenell will not be openly pro-gay rights. It’s imaginable that there could be a time, in the next four to eight years, when having someone who is pro-gay in the White House could make a difference. It would be better if Grenell had remained.