WASHINGTON — Richard Grenell, the openly gay spokesman who was hired two weeks ago by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to run the candidate’s foreign policy messages, has resigned in the wake of relentless critiques, most of which was personal, by anti-gay right wing conservatives.
Sources close to the Romney campaign said that Grenell’s qualifications, professional background, and considerable experience never factored into the criticism coming from the right, instead the focus appeared to center on his being gay, reported The Washington Post.
In a statement published in the Post on Tuesday, Grenell said:
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“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.”
Grenell’s hiring provoked harsh criticism among Religious Right activists including the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, former FRC president Gary Bauer and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer.
Fischer went so far as to suggest that Grenell posed a national security risk, reported Right Wing Watch.
“Mitt Romney is once again trying to have it both ways: claiming that he personally tolerates gays and lesbians while at the same time pandering to the anti-gay right-wing base whose intolerance is legendary,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Obviously, it’s not working.”
If Romney will cave to the far-right fringe on this, is there anything he won’t give them when they ask?”
The Human Rights Campaign also took Romney to task, and said Grennell “faced a torrent of unfounded criticism from the far right,” and “not once did the Romney campaign condemn these attacks and support Grennell.”
“Mitt Romney capitulating to the demands of extremist anti-gay groups is nothing new. He has donated to the rabidly anti-gay National Organization for Marriage and the Massachusetts Family Institute. He has even signed a NOM vow that binds him to appoint only anti-gay judges and establish a McCarthy-era commission to investigate the activities of those who support LGBT equality,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese.
“The fact that Grennell is gone so quickly after a right-wing uproar is a troubling harbinger of the kind of power that anti-gay forces would have in a Romney White House,” Solmonese added.
Beyond his earlier statement, Grenell has declined further comment today.