Romney adviser leaves campaign amid controversy
May 1st, 2012
05:02 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney adviser leaves campaign amid controversy

(CNN) – Richard Grenell, who joined Mitt Romney's team as a foreign policy adviser less than two weeks ago, has left the campaign, a spokesman for the likely Republican presidential nominee confirmed Tuesday.

"We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons," campaign manager Matt Rhoades said in a statement. "We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill."

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Since joining the campaign in mid-April, Grenell's short tenure has been marked by controversy involving his Twitter account, as well as heavy criticism of Grenell's sexual orientation from some on the conservative right. The longtime Republican strategist is openly gay.

Most pressing, Grenell faced recent scrutiny over reports that he had deleted hundreds of posts on Twitter shortly after being appointed by the Romney campaign.

The tweets, written prior to his hiring, criticized the physical appearances of certain high-profile Democratic women, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

Archived online, the Twitter posts also included several jabs aimed at Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, during the Republican presidential primary.

Grenell previously served in the George W. Bush administration as a communications director at the United Nations and an adviser to four U.S. ambassadors to the U.N.

Also since joining the Romney campaign, Grenell has taken heat from the anti-gay group American Family Association.

Writing in a blog last week, Bryan Fischer, a director for the conservative group, argued: "The message Gov. Romney appears to be sending to the pro-family community through his Grenell appointment is 'drop dead'."

Later, during an interview on CNN, Fischer referred to Grenell's hire as a "big gain for the homosexual lobby."

In a statement obtained by the Washington Post, Grenell pointed to the public discussion over his sexual orientation as a reason for leaving the campaign.

"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," Grenell said in the statement.

He added: "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."

- CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Mitt Romney • Twitter
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. waikikijohn

    Poor Mitt, as much as he desperately tries to get to the middle, the far right won't give him an inch. Mitt,you should have know better than to let a gay person into your tent. Maybe you can replace him with Ted Nugget, he is more the style of the new republican party

    May 1, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. Maria Lopez

    This can go on the list of why Mitt Romney is not qualified to be President.

    A leader (or a successful businessman, as Romney claims to be) hires people for his staff based on their job performance, and who has the best skills and abilities to help the team. You don't fire someone because he's gay.

    It also shows that Romney easily gives in to pressure from extremists and interest groups and isn't able to make difficult decisions. Another reason he shouldn't be President.

    May 1, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  3. alex

    GOP = American Taliban...There is no room for any moderate or the middle path in this party. Im a fiscal conservative but a social liberal. But i cant even consider voting for such a Radical party full of nut jobs!!!
    My family has been voting GOP for generations but never again..

    May 1, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. JW

    This is ridiculous. Why can't a campaign aid be gay? Conservatives are revealing their deep seated hate. They don't want us to marry, now they don't was to work.

    May 1, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  5. scholarlymama71

    The more time passes, the worse Romney looks. He's his own worst enemy, and in November, her will be served a well-deserved helping of humble pie. He makes Rick Santorum look sane by comparison, and that's really saying something.

    May 1, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  6. frank thomas

    As an openly gay man I cannot understand anyone being gay and republican, their base is the evangicak christians who believe gays are an abomination and are psychoilicacly unfit, I voted for Obama and will vote for him again and all democrats, He has done more for equality for gays than any other president, The mormon cult and their money was responsible for the passage of prop 8 in california. . Romney knew who he was hiring and caved to the right. Grenell will be more than welcome in the progressive Democratic Party.Come on Richard join your real politaical party.

    May 1, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  7. Hawk in texas

    Dosen't it seem a little strange that all of the people romney has hired are all old g.w. bush people. sounds like he wants to take up right where bush left off. lets see if he picks cheney for vice president.

    May 1, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  8. Tom

    There is something terribly wrong with the republican party. I think it's time to vote all the republicans out of office.

    May 1, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  9. bpsf

    Well there goes 8% of the vote to Obama

    May 1, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  10. divejoy

    if you hate gays and feel that they should be cleansed (fired) from every respectable job then be a Republican (hate Man).

    May 1, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  11. svann

    A gay guy tweets that women are ugly? Is that unusual?

    May 1, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. CBR

    Somehow there is something missing from this blurb. No one leaves a campaign after just 2 weeks. The fact that the statement hints at controversy but does not explain it does not sound like a positive move by the Romney campaign.

    May 1, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  13. TYSPOCK

    The thing I like about Mitt Romney is that if you do not like his position – he will gladly change it for you ! It is one on the rare benefits of being born without a spine !

    May 1, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. Dennis

    I guess we have seen here is the tolerance that will prevail if the Republicans take over. Does this country believe in the rights of others or only those who believe only what you do. I think it makes a strong point of what the Tea Party and the Religious Right believe in. Have the Reps gone to far to the right and have marginalized themselves.

    May 1, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. SokrMom

    So, a guy who makes a habit of personal attacks on other people has resigned because he was the subject of personal attacks. Wouldn't it be nice if he has more empathy for others now? But wait, he's a Republican–empathy is not their strong suit.

    May 1, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  16. emDFW

    Well, that and he was trying to teach foreign policy to a complete imbecile.

    And seriously, if the only thing you can say about Hill is that she's unattractive, she's probably got a better grasp on foreign affairs than you.

    May 1, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  17. souptwins

    Sounds like Romney was willing to stand by him but he decided he didn't want the hassle. Shame on those doing the harassing! However, I'd like to know more about the Twitter angle. It seems people will never learn about posts on social media coming back to bite them.

    May 1, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  18. kuewa

    So the Repubs lost their token gay. But they still have their token hispanics, women, and a few blacks and asians. I'm sure another gay will be found somewhere in their midst.

    May 1, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. Chad

    So he has to quit because he is openly Gay.
    So much for the Grand (Gallant) Old Party, the Government Of the People,
    This is the party that freed the slaves, but now they LOVE hating and discriminating against Gay people...and women...and any other minority... Now they are the party that will do anything to keep their taxes low, including destroy the government by voting against anything that helps the common man.
    How can ANYBODY vote for a party that openly discriminates, and who use people like Karl Rove as a strategist?
    How can they force the most qualified man out of the running, because he is Gay? Really? Look at it people...is that the direction we want to go as a society? Are we all going to wait until he finds a Black man to take his place so that he looks diversified, the way Bush Sr. found Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court... the only Black anti Black in the country....?
    Grr...Romney is a disgrace. And so is the whole Republican party.

    May 1, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  20. Stopthemadness

    I told people he wouldn't last. Told people Romney was using him as a token gay election point. The super religious right confirmed what I said would happen....SURPRISE........oh wait nope still not yet.

    May 1, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    Spin all you want, Mittens, you asked him to bail because he's gay.

    May 1, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  22. TDALLAS

    Good ole Mitt...on both side of the issue. Quoting from the article..."We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons," campaign manager Matt Rhoades said in a statement. "We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill." So there you have it... Romney will bow down before every right wing conservative out there. If he had any politica courage he could have refused to accept the guys resignation. Principle Mitt look it up in the dictionary.

    I wonder if the Mitt campaign is also going to return all contributions that come from any gay donors?????

    He want to be president so bad that he would turn on his own famiy to get what he wants... makes you wonder who will be calling the shots should he get elected.

    May 1, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  23. Tex71

    The GOP will absolutely make it to the 21st century! Best estimates place that event somewhere late in the 24th century. The breakthrough will happen at their moon base.

    May 1, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  24. nytw

    Liberals just have to hate.

    May 1, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  25. Rat Pobertson

    he's a sinner. praise jesus i witness hallelujuah... i wanna speak in tongues or do the tongue action

    May 1, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
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