The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, likes to play it safe. Romney avoids controversy, by any means necessary, even if he has to lie, flip-flop, or somersault.
When the news hit on the evening of April 19 that Richard Grenell, an openly gay Republican, had been appointed to be Romney’s national security and foreign policy spokesman, anti-gay GOP criticism erupted.
The elephant that sits neither quietly nor invisibly in the GOP’s room is the fact that the Republican Party is just as gay as the Democratic Party — just more closeted. Grenell would have been the party’s first out presidential campaign spokesman, signaling a shift in broadening its appeal to Republican moderates and LGBTQ voters. Instead, we witnessed the continued anti-gay stronghold of the GOP’s social conservatives. On May 1, less than a fortnight after his appointment to the campaign, Grenell abruptly resigned, embarrassing not only the Romney camp but the party’s growing anti-homophobic contingent.
In a statement obtained by “Right Turn,” Jennifer Rubin’s conservative commentary column in The Washington Post, Grenell stated:
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 was a veteran Republican communications strategist when President George W. Bush appointed him as his Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for the U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. in 2001. Before going to the U.N., Grenell served as a spokesman for several Republican officials: New York Governor George Pataki, San Diego Mayor Susan Golding, Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, and South Carolina then-Rep. Mark Sanford before he was elected governor. As a party loyalist who has been on the Republican scene for
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