Richard Grenell, who abruptly resigned as presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's foreign policy spokesman on Tuesday, was not pressured to leave because of his sexuality, another Romney spokesman insisted on Wednesday.
Appearing on MSNBC, Dan Senor, the former Bush administration spokesman who now advises Romney, said Grenell, who is openly gay, was not forced out by campaign aides worried about pushback from social conservatives.
"Not at all," said Senor. "He was being pressured to stay on."
"When the campaign learned that he was considering stepping down, the campaign went out of its way to try to persuade him to stay," Senor added. "He was supposed to start this week, actually. So he hadn't officially started yet but he was supposed to start this week. The campaign went out of its way to persuade him to stay, everyone from the campaign manager, to senior foreign policy advisers to the campaign, outside advisers to the campaign. It's a disappointment that the campaign wasn't able to persuade him to stay but ultimately this was a decision that he made. And we respect the decision even if we're disappointed by it."
Senor's comments echo the statements that Romney aides offered in private shortly after news of Grenell's resignation broke. And they serve, primarily, as push back against the line that the former Massachusetts governor had buckled in his first standoff with the religious right as the GOP's presumptive nominee.
Two Republican advisers told The Huffington Post that following Grenell's departure, Romney staffers and officials with Republican gay rights groups discussed what had transpired. One of the advisers, referencing reports that Grenell was let go because he was gay, implied that that was not the case, adding that it appeared "the wrong end of the stick might actually have gotten out there."
In actuality, Grenell's role with the campaign was compromised by things other than his sexuality. He was forced to frantically erase more than 800 tweets after he was appointed, some of which were biting, aggressive and critical of prominent women. And his relationship with reporters had been greatly damaged during his prior tenure at the UN. Which of these issues prompted his exit from the Romney campaign is unclear. But it's evident that Romney's aides don't like the storyline that's developed.