But 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.
“It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay,” one Republican adviser said. “They believed this was a nonissue. But they didn’t want to confront the religious right.”
And the Religious Right is crowing. The head of the American Family Association, standard-bearer for homophobia in America, has made it clear that no hiring of homosexuals will be acceptable. Romney's abandonment of Grenell was a "huge win," he said. It becomes now a question for every Republican in public office, including in Arkansas. Would you hire an openly gay person as a staff member? Yes or no? Simple question. Maybe Jerry Cox will add it to his questionnaire, which aims at precisely this sort of discrimination among the people his so-called "family" group favors.
Michael Keegan of People for the American Way observes that this episode distills a core question about Mitt Romney. What won't he say or do to get elected?
“Mitt Romney is once again trying to have it both ways: claiming that he personally tolerates gays and lesbians while at the same time pandering to the anti-gay right-wing base whose intolerance is legendary. Obviously, it’s not working.
“Romney is clearly depending on Religious Right leaders to help him energize a wary base and they insist that he tow the line. But the support of those leaders comes at a price. If Romney is letting the likes of Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer dictate all his hiring decisions, he leaves no doubt as to what kind of president he would be.
“If Romney will cave to the far-right fringe on this, is there anything he won’t give them when they ask?”