Richard Grenell, whose hiring was hailed as progress for gays in Republican Party politics, has resigned from the Romney campaign after an anti-gay backlash.
When, just over a week ago, Mitt Romney hired an openly gay former Bush administration official to serve as his spokesman on foreign policy, gay Republican activists hailed the move as progress -- a sign that the GOP was moving in a more tolerant direction, and that Romney was willing to stand up to the party's remaining anti-gay voices.
So much for that. On Tuesday, Richard Grenell announced he's leaving the Romney campaign in a statement emailed to friends:
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.
Foreign policy has been at the center of the presidential campaign in the past week, from the partisan fracas over the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden to the Obama administration's emerging quandary over the escaped Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. Yet Grenell never issued a single statement or appeared on a conference call on behalf of the Romney campaign, and now we know why: According to the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin, who broke the news, the campaign was reluctant to put him out front and risk incurring more wrath from social conservatives such as Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins, who had criticized the hire.