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Details emerge about resignation of Mitt Romney's gay spokesman

Published: Thursday, May 3 2012 9:10 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at Consol Energy Research and Development Facility in South Park Township, Pa., Monday, April 23, 2012.

Jae C. Hong, file, Associated Press\r\n

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Details are emerging about the Tuesday resignation of Richard Grenell, the 45-year-old gay Republican that Mitt Romney hired as his foreign policy spokesman less than a month ago.

Grenell's hiring on April 19 quickly sparked criticism from not only the religious right (on account of his sexual orientation), but also liberals and feminists who objected to Grenell's Twitter barbs against women like Hillary Clinton and Rachel Maddow. Against that backdrop, a front-page story in Thursday's New York Times unearthed the backroom maneuvering that ultimately led Grenell to resign.

New York Times reporters Michael Barbaro, Helene Cooper and Ashhley Parker interviewed more than a dozen aides and advisers and concluded, "On one level, Mr. Grenell’s short-lived and rocky tenure as Mr. Romney’s foreign policy spokesman is the story of how halting attempts by the campaign to manage its relationship with the most conservative quarter of the Republican Party left an aide feeling badly marginalized and ostracized. … Those close to Mr. Grenell, known as Ric, insist that when he had sought forceful support from those who had entrusted him with a major role, the campaign seemed to be focused, instead, on quieting a political storm that could detract from Mr. Romney’s message and his appeal to a crucial constituency."

Los Angeles Times columnist Jon Healey asked, "Could the Richard Grenell affair have turned out any worse for Mitt Romney?"

"So to sum up," Healey continued, "Romney hires an openly gay person, drawing fire from social conservatives. Before the new hire puts in his first official day on the job, he quits, fueling speculation that Romney caved to intolerance on the right. … Meanwhile, President Obama goes to Afghanistan to remind the public that U.S. troops successfully hunted down and killed Osama bin Laden one year ago, and to remind voters of his plans to bring the troops home by 2014."

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