Former Bush Aide: Mitt Romney 'Etch-A-Sketched' Openly Gay Spokesman Off Campaign
As you may have heard through the din of President Obama's trip to Afghanistan, yesterday afternoon Richard Grenell, Mitt Romney's newly-hired foreign policy spokesman, resigned from the campaign.
The thing that made Grenell's resignation notable is that he is gay—and his hiring prompted a furious backlash from the homophobic right, which declared victory upon his departure. The Romney campaign strenuously denies that it wanted Grenell to quit, but it's clear that they refused to publicly defend him from the right-wing bullying, and based on this report from Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, Grenell believes he was hung out to dry:
But Christian Whiton, who served in the Bush State Department as a political appointee and spoke with Grenell on Tuesday, told POLITICO: “Basically, Ric got Etch-A-Sketched.”
“I gathered Ric was frustrated that Team Romney wouldn’t aggressively engage Obama on foreign policy. Ric was kept from talking to the press as a spokesman typically would. They seem to have decided to concede foreign policy to Obama, and therefore didn’t need an aggressive spokesman,” said Whiton, a former Newt Gingrich adviser who described Grenell as a “friend.”
“This confirms the worst of what people think of team Romney. It seems in retrospect like Grenell was hired to check some diversity box, but was then kept in the closet because others were offended,” said Whiton. “It’s very strange that foreign policy strategy and related issues were not run to ground before Ric was hired. It’s frankly incompetent management.”
Whiton was not alone in his concern—Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer also questioned Romneyland for keeping Grenell under wraps, telling Greg Sargent that "nobody understands" why Grenell was prevented from doing his job.
Maybe Fleischer really doesn't understand, but I'm not buying it. He's been around long enough to know how deeply in bed the Republican Party is with the intolerant right. And if he honestly expected Mitt Romney to have the courage to stand up for Grenell when it was politically inconvenient ... well, then that's something that I truly don't understand.