5:53 pm May. 1, 2012
The head of the Log Cabin Republicans said in an interview that it was "unfortunate" that Richard Grenell wouldn't be working for the Romney campaign, after the openly gay former spokesman to the United Nations resigned his position today.
"Rick made this choice," said R. Clarke Cooper, the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, who served with Grenell in the State Department under George W. Bush. "It's disappointing, but I respect Rick's decision."
Cooper compared Romney's attitude toward hiring gay aides to George W. Bush's.
"Rick's not the first or last openly gay person to be hired in a Republican campaign or in an administration," Cooper said. "He was out during the eight years of the Bush government, and there were many of us that were out. President Bush at the time said, actually on the campaign trail said, I will hire those who are qualified regardless of orientation and that won't factor in. And Romney has made similar statements."
Grenell's appointment had been criticized by some social conservatives. After Grenell's resignation was reported, the campaign issued a statement to conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin saying it had, directly and through surrogates, urged him to stay.
"The [campaign] made it clear that it an openly gay man was a non-issue for the governor, but the whole hyperpartisan atmosphere and the discussion of issues unrelated to Rick's experience seemed, I guess, to compromise his effectiveness on the campaign trail," Cooper said, echoing a written statement he put out in response to the resignation. "I can tell you as a colleague of his during the Bush years, we served together at the State Department, he definitely is qualified, and still is. But Rick was hounded by the extremes on the right and the extremes on the left."
Cooper said he didn't want to speak for either side, but that it's "unfortunate" Grenell won't be serving in that position.
"The campaign, the Romney folks, they've lost a well-known conservative advocate, and they've lost a talented spokesperson," he said.
The controversy over Grenell wasn't limited to his orientation. Upon his hiring, Grenell had to scrub parts of his Twitter feed of some cutting comments about Callista Gingrich and Hillary Clinton, and he even encountered some criticism from the left for comments he made on his personal site, which he also took down upon taking the job with Romney's campaign.
"If you're on the left frame of things, they probably would have been just as critical regardless of what conservative would have been hired for that position," Cooper said. "Then on the far right, you had your Brian Fischers of the world, who read into it as something else and went absolutely unhinged."
Fischer is the Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association, and was a fierce critic of Grenell's hire.