Richard Grenell, Mitt Romney’s gay spokesperson who resigned hours ago after pressure from conservatives, actually resigned because of Bryan Fischer, according to Bryan Fischer, who today on his radio program took credit for leading the charge that resulted in Grenell’s resignation. Fischer, who has said that gays are “Nazis,” called Grenell’s resignation “a huge win” because the Fischer-led group of anti-gay conservatives, the religious right, and anti-gay so-called “family” groups, were able to get Grenell to quit and taught the Romney campaign a lesson.
“Mitt Romney has been forced to say, look, I overstepped my bounds here, I went outside the parameters here, I went off the reservation with this hire,” Fischer said, adding that “Mitt Romney’s not going to admit that.”
And there he does have a point.
There are those that are claiming the Romney camp is trying to use the resignation as an effort to not appear anti-gay, which is ludicrous on its face, albeit they did hire Grenell in the first place.
Molly Ball at The Atlantic offers this excellent report:
To the activists who had cheered Grenell’s hiring — he was apparently the first-ever openly gay spokesman for a Republican presidential campaign — the news came as a blow.
“It is unfortunate that while the Romney campaign made it clear that Grenell being an openly gay man was a non-issue for the governor and his team, the hyper-partisan discussion of issues unrelated to Ric’s national security qualifications threatened to compromise his effectiveness on the campaign trail,” said R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, who served alongside Grenell at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. “Ric was essentially hounded by the cacophony of the far-right and left,” Cooper added.
Added Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud: “The bottom line is it’s a sad day in America when the best and brightest are unable to do their jobs because a small fringe is so fascinated with their personal lives. Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins and the anti-gay-for-pay crowd seem more interested in making sure people can’t work in this country than our country’s national security interests.”
These activists were reluctant to pin blame on the Romney campaign for giving in to the anti-gay backlash, and the Romney campaign was clearly seeking to avoid the impression that it caved to pressure and pushed Grenell out because of his sexual orientation. Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, said in 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.”
More than one Republican insider I spoke to wondered if Grenell, who had also drawn controversy for his off-message tweeting and combative persona, hadn’t instead turned out to be a poor fit for the tightly disciplined, personality-averse Romney operation. If that’s the case, Grenell’s attempt to point the finger at voices of intolerance within the GOP may be a self-serving excuse.
Whether or not that’s the case, though, the episode stands to hurt Romney by making him appear captive to the most extreme elements of the Republican base. That was the immediate response from the left to Grenell’s resignation: “If Romney will cave to the far-right fringe on this, is there anything he won’t give them when they ask?” said Michael Keegan, president of the liberal group People For the American Way. Teddy Goff, the digital director for the Obama campaign, tweeted: “Today we learned that in the year 2012, a Republican nominee for President can’t have a gay person as spokesman.”
When I originally reported on Grenell’s hiring, Michelangelo Signorile, the gay activist and journalist, told me he didn’t think the move would help Romney any among gay voters, who would be more concerned with the candidate’s stances on policies important to them. But, he noted, it would be a signal to many non-gay moderates that Romney, on some level, shared their values of tolerance and inclusion. Now, deservedly or not, Romney has sent the opposite message: that he’s unable to stand up to the voices of intolerance within the Republican Party.
Fischer called Grinell a “homosexual activist” despite the fact that Grinell has not seemingly raised a finger to support civil rights for the LGBT community.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement today in response to the resignation of Richard Grennell, Mitt Romney’s openly gay spokesman:
From the moment Richard Grennell signed on as Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman, he faced a torrent of unfounded criticism from the far right. 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. 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.
Bryan Fischer and the voices of hate: 1. Reason, equality and American values: 0.
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