(CNN) – Mitt Romney said Friday his team encouraged Richard Grenell, a spokesman who resigned after less than two weeks on the job, to stay with the campaign.
"We wanted him to stay with our team," Romney said in an interview on Fox News. "He is a very accomplished spokesperson."
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Grenell's hire was marked by controversy, as he had previously tweeted criticism of high-profile Democratic women, as well as criticism of one-time GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista. Social conservatives also criticized the Romney campaign's hire of an openly gay Republican operative.
On Friday Romney said Grenell's sexual orientation played no part in his hiring.
"We select people not based upon their ethnicity or sexual preference or gender but upon their capability. We are sorry to have him go," Romney said.
On Wednesday, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN Grenell left his job as a foreign policy spokesman in part because he was restricted from speaking publicly.
The source said Grenell, who was hired to the Romney camp less than two weeks before his departure, was told on several occasions not to speak on the campaign's conference calls with reporters.
Romney maintained Friday that his campaign advisers urged Grenell to stay in his job.
"Actually a whole series of senior people on my team called him and encouraged him to stay. He expressed a desire to move on and I wish him the best," Romney said.