By: Lauren Saccone
Richard Grenell, Mitt Romney’s recently announced choice as his foreign policy and national security spokesman, has resigned from the campaign. The news comes less than two weeks after he accepted the position. Grenell, who previously worked for George W. Bush as spokesman at the United Nations, drew attention for being openly gay, making him was a surprising choice, particularly for Romney’s conservative campaign. Grenell's hiring did not sit well with many social conservatives, who found his involvement in the campaign to be simply unacceptable.
“The homosexual agenda represents the single-greatest threat to religious liberty and freedom of association in America today,” said Bryan Fischer of American Family Association (AFA) in an interview with CNN regarding Grenell. The radio host for AFA condemned the hiring, saying that Romney was essentially telling the so-called pro-family community to “drop dead.” One conservative columnist questioned Grenell's loyalty to a Republican Presidential candidate should President Obama endorse gay marriage on the campaign trail.
The backlash against Grenell forced the Romney campaign to keep him away from the spotlight, which negated his role as spokesman, especially given President Obama's recent criticism of Romney for his 2007 comments on Osama bin Laden - which fell directly within Grenells' purview.
In his official resignation statement released to the public, Grenell carefully skates around the details of his departure, and focuses on minimizing damage to the Romney campaign. He also emphasizes that his sexuality was a non-issue in the campaign.
“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,” Grenell’s statement read.
Grenell’s withdrawal from the campaign does not look good for Romney. Social conservatives are trumpeting the success of effectively hounding Grenell out of his job for being gay. Meanwhile, Democrats are using this as yet another example of Romney’s deeply flawed campaign efforts.
“This is the kind of bigoted, anti-gay extremists a Romney administration would find itself held hostage to,” Bill Burton, a pro-Obama super PAC founder, told the ‘Washington Post.’
Tuesday would have been Grenell’s first official day in his new position.
[Pic via Flickr - Gage Skidmore]