Ex-Romney staffer Richard Grenell probably could have used defending before he left his job earlier this week, but, hey, better late than never, right?
On Friday, Mitt Romney addressed the resignation of his foreign policy spokesman for the first time on Fox News, saying he wished Grenell kept his job. “We wanted him to stay with our team," Romney said, according to The Washington Post's Philip Rucker. “He’s a very accomplished spokesperson, and we select people not based upon their ethnicity or their sexual preference or their gender but upon their capability.”
Romney's campaign has been taking heat for Grenell's departure, which followed far-right complaints that appointing an openly-gay staffer who supports gay marriage was a "slap in the face" to traditional marriage advocates. In response, the Romney campaign is emphasizing that Grenell left on his own accord. That was evident in Romney's statement this morning and a similar one from his adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, who told MSNBC's Daily Rundown this morning that Grenell "did decide for his own reasons that his effectiveness was going to be compromised." Fehrnstrom added that Romney, in his speech at the Values Voter Summit last year, "denounced some of the poisonous language ... used by some of the same people who criticized Grenell's appointment."
That's a tactic that appears to say, discrimination exists but not in the Romney campaign. It's a plausible line of defense—though it certainly won't satisfy those who say he should've defended Grenell as soon as the attacks on him surfaced. Additionally, it's a defense that's challenged by a new Mother Jones report by Tim Murphy about a woman who says Romney fired her in 2004 because she is gay. Ardith Wieworka had married her partner and was the longtime head of Massachusetts's Child Care Services, according to Murphy. She declined to comment to Mother Jones but "She told The Boston Globe later that month that, absent any clear motive, she suspected her ouster may have been a result of marriage." Romney's state health and human services commissioner at the time, Ronald Preston, denied the move had anything to do with Wieworka's sexuality, but clearly the story doesn't help his case today.