(Photo: REUTERS/Mark Makela)
Richard Grenell, an openly gay foreign policy expert, was on staff with the Romney campaign for less than two weeks. But in his first interview since resigning, he insists that he was not forced to step down.
In a recent interview with The Desert Sun, Grenell said that it was his decision to leave the Romney campaign after he realized he would be a distraction to the campaign and its message.
"The far left doesn't want a gay person to be conservative and the far right doesn't want a conservative to be a gay person," says Grenell. "Some of the most hateful, mean-spirited intolerant comments about me being the foreign policy and national security spokesman for Governor Romney…were coming from the left."
He went on to say that he was used to taking hits from the "far right," having worked in politics for 20 years. Conservative Christian groups such as American Family Association and the Family Research Council had criticized the Romney campaign for hiring an openly gay national security spokesperson.
"They (Romeny campaign) did not force me to resign. I resigned because I'm very passionate about foreign policy and national security issues," says Grenell. But, he says, "When the messenger becomes part of the message – if you really care about these issues – you should step aside."
Romney named 45-year-old Grenell as one of his campaign advisers in late April. Grenell has an extensive political career, serving as the spokesman for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and was also appointed by Ambassador John Danforth in 2004 to serve as an alternative representative of the United States to the U.N. Security Council. Romney had hired him to advise him on national security and foreign policy issues.
But within two weeks he resigned, officially stating that, "While I welcome 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."
Notably, despite President Obama's recent public support of same-sex marriage, Grenell – who also supports gay marriage – says he still roots for former Massachusetts Governor Romney to be elected president this fall.
"I think I am like most Americans in that we're multi-dimensional. We have varied views and we don't fit comfortably in a one-dimensional box that either the news media or some extremists on the left or the right want to put us in," he said.