Gay Spokesman Quits Romney Campaign, Citing "Hyper-Partisan Discussion of Personal Issues"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 1 2012 3:41 PM

Gay Spokesman Quits Romney Campaign, Citing "Hyper-Partisan Discussion of Personal Issues"

A week ago I reported on the odd travails of Richard Grenell, a national security pro hired by the Romney campaign as a spokesman on those issues. Grenell was -- well, is -- a snarky tweeter and out gay man. He was getting bludgeoned for both of those reasons, although to call them "reasons" is to elevate them. And when the campaign turned to foreign policy, it was Dan Senor, not Grenell, doing the media hits.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

And now Grenell's out. Romney spokesman Matt Rhoades says, via a statement: "We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons. We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill." Grenell tells Rubin what those reasons were.

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.
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Before it drops into the memory hole, let's remember -- the argument against Grenell was 24-carat anti-gay. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association repeatedly accused Romney of selling out "conservatives" by hiring a gay man. "It appears to be a dog-whistle to the homosexual lobby," he explained, "a way of saying to them I’m with you, not with them. It appears to be his way of saying to gay activists that when push comes to shove you can count on me. I’ll be in your corner, not theirs." Fischer even equated gay sex with prostitution. "If the Secret Service scandal teaches us one thing, it is this: a man’s private sexual conduct matters when we’re talking about public office."

And that's the guy who won the argument.

UPDATE: Chris Barron, chief strategist of the gay Republican GOProud, responds:

It's a sad day in America when the best and brightest are unable to do their jobs because a few on the fringe are fascinated with their personal lives.  It seems that Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins and their crowd are more interested in making sure that gay people can't work in this country than having the best people work to keep our country safe.  It is a great loss for the Romney campaign and for our country, and a truly sad commentary on the depths that the anti-gay for pay industry in this country will go to push their bigoted agenda.  For these people, not even national security trumps their anti-gay agenda

You certainly can't look at this and think, "There's a campaign that's confident of holding on to evangelical voters."

UPDATE II: Bryan Fischer responds to me on Twitter.

@daveweigel Gov. Romney will do the right thing if it's politically expedient. Let's make it expedient for him to do many right things.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.