Romney Hires Openly Gay Spokesman Richard Grenell

Mitt Romney has hired Richard A. Grenell, a veteran GOP communications strategist as his national security and foreign policy spokesman. Grenell worked in the Bush White House.

Andrew Sullivan writes: Grenell

He has lived with his partner, Matt Lashey, for the past nine years, and is a frequent advocate for Republicans and gays. Which is why this pick is interesting. For Romney to have an openly gay spokesman is a real outreach to gay Republicans, a subtle signal to moderates, and the Santorum faction's reaction will be worth noting.

MetroWeekly's Chris Geidner offers some backstory:

Grenell served through September 2008 in the Bush administration as a spokesman to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — and told The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld as he left the administration that it was his hope that New York would have marriage equality soon and that he would one day be able to marry his partner, Matt Lashey. The couple has been together 10 years.

Log Cabin Republicans executive director R. Clarke Cooper, who also served in the Bush administration, tells Metro Weekly that Grenell will be "a tremendous asset" to the Romney campaign.

"Having served with Ric," Cooper says, "I can attest that his experience in the multi-lateral environment of the UN and familiarity with domestic and international media make Ric a strong voice."

And Kren Ocamb sees a shift:

Rachel Maddow called it! Wednesday night she wondered why Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney delivered what was billed as a major talk in North Carolina – and never mentioned the antigay Amendment One on that state’s May 8 ballot. Mark this day, April 18, as the day Romney pivots to appeal to mainstream voters for the general election.


  1. Terry says

    I’m sorry, but this is window dressing. As Rachel Maddow also mentioned on her superb segment the other night, Mitt Romney has been pushing a virulently anti-gay agenda…he’s WAY too cozy with the National Organization for Marriage (including a donation AND signing their vile pledge to push a Federal Marriage Amendment). Romney is against marriage equality, he’s against civil unions, he supports DOMA, he would reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, he donated to Proposition 8 and he has financially supported an “ex-gay” group. Hiring some gay guy doesn’t even begin to mitigate any of that.

  2. mike128 says

    @ Terry: Agreed.

    Also have no idea what kind of gay man would want to work for Bush and then Romney. Certainly this is not someone who represents my interests (which, by the way, go beyond just “being gay”).

  3. Greggie says

    And considering everything that Terry mentioned, how can this person in his right mind work for Romney? I’m curious to know what his partner thinks of this. It would make me sick to my stomach if I made such a conscious choice.

  4. johnny says

    Romney Playbook:

    1. Appear to be far-right, thereby knocking out all other contenders for nomination.

    2. Once #1 is achieved, give relatively inane speeches for 2 months.

    3. Once the dust settles, go for the moderate middle in an attempt to get as many votes as possible on election day.

    4. If presidency is attained, go back to #1 position and begin creating your dreamworld theocracy with Mormon leanings.

  5. Peter M. says

    This is sickening. Richard A. Grenell is certainly no advocate for gay rights if he campaigns for Romney. A man who is not only against marriage equality but who will push for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, in other words outlawing marriage equality in all 50 states. I’m with Greggie, how can Grenell in his right mind work for Romney? How can he fight for someone who wants to deprive him and his partner of their basic rights?

  6. says

    Looking forward to this disingenuous man explaining exactly why a President Romney would send us to war in Iran, and how that and an upper class tax cut is going to bring our economy to its feet.

  7. VDUFFORD says

    I would like to hear what Mr.Grenell and other so called gay republicans have to say before they are eviscerated in our comments form!
    Any chance of a ‘Towlerload’ can get an interview with Mr.Grenell?
    Just a card carring democrat trying to understand!

  8. Michael says

    F#ck him. He hopes to get married someday but is now working for someone who would make sure that’s impossible?

    F#ck him and every other gay republican.

  9. BobN says

    Well, if he’s got all the U.N. experience, and if he’s going to be Romney’s foreign policy spokesman, the obvious first question — OK, second question after “so, when do we bomb Tehran?” — is whether a future Romney administration would continue the aggressive position in favor of gay rights around the world begun by Secty. Clinton and President Obama.

  10. says

    Grenell should be commended, not ripped apart. It takes great courage for him to represent Romney (given Romney’s stance on homosexuality), and take the eventual criticism from the gay community, who finds his decision to support Romney as hypocritical. Ultimately, while we must acknowledge that the religious right has a heavy influence on the party, it’s vital that gay Republicans like Grenell continue to push back and work aggressively to move the party to a consistent conservative message that the government doesn’t belong in your wallet or in your heart. The path towards achieving equal rights for gays, lesbians and all Americans is working with Republicans as opposed to working against them, to have individuals within the party, like Grenell and Log Cabin Republicans, advocating those issues. Congrats Ric.

  11. ggreen says

    No matter how the apologists at Log Cabin Republicans or Go Proud polish this turd its still someone working for the party that works AGAINST gay rights. That means Grenell is working against gays and himself. Its 100% delusional to think otherwise.

  12. says

    He doesn’t have great courage ….just a brass neck !
    As for the Govt “doesn’t belong in your wallet or in your heart”…….what about not in our bedrooms ? ….
    And what about DADT,…Romney wants to reinstate it…….and rights for women and equal marriage rights ? He’s against all that.
    “The path towards achieving equal rights for gays…. is working with Republicans as opposed to working against them….”
    When I read that sentence i thought you must have taken leave of your senses……have you been following anything at all of the bitter divisive Republican swing to the extreme right ?

    Maybe you believe that another Republican appointee to SCOTUS would help getting a “consistent conservative message ” to the American people.
    Everything you say is delusional.
    The path towards equality for gays is fighting the Republicans at every corner of every street in USA…..the path to equality is exposing the virulent hypocrisy of republicans in the Ryan budget, their anti-women agenda, their anti equality agenda, their pro mega-rich agenda and their continued acceptance of the contributions from the leaders of the bigots, the Koch Brothers.
    Exposing the extremism of the NRA/Republican party, all of it, is the consistent message that needs to go out.

    Your post on working with Republicans is so misguided as to be subversive of our struggle for equality.

  13. Jack says

    Gotta love how devaluing the worth of human beings MUST be stopped…until that person is someone who does something you don’t like. Then it’s OK to call them “garbage” and the like.

    Y’all are so hypocritical that it makes me want to cut of my nose to spite my face and oppose equality just to make you suffer.

  14. Rick says

    @THEPOLITERATI Thanks for that analysis, which is largely on target. Most of the people who comment on this site are extremists and purists and most therefore do not have a real-world understanding of how social change occurs. Yes, a movement needs the in-your-face types, but it also needs those who work to change those insitutions that are still resistant to change–and the only way to do that is from within… engaging them and building bridges to them rather than by throwing eggs at them.

    If some of these folks were a little more sophisticated, they would step back and realize that if Romney really were a virulent homophobe, there is no way he would appoint an openly gay man to such a prominent positio–he would not even want to be in the presence of an openly gay man. It demonstrates that a lot of his “anti-gay” positioning up to now has only been designed to get the Religious Right off his back during the primaries, who, unfortunately, are still a force in the Republican Party and in society at large.

    At some point, as more gay people engage the Republican Party and as opinions among the rank-and-file change (a recent poll indicated a majority of registered Republicans were in favor of DADT repeal, are in favor of legislation ending job discriminateion, and are in favor of either same-sex marriage or civil unions), the Religious Right will become isolated and will have nowhere to turn in the political mainstream to pursue their homophobic agenda.

    But to appreciate this, you have to not only have a broader perspective than most of these folks have, but also a greater interest in the eradication of homophobia than you do in the interests of the Democratic Party or the Far Left.

    And just for the record, I am not a Republican, myself, and cannot stand Mitt Romney.

  15. Donald says

    It’s worth remembering that just because a politician says it (Romney with constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage; and Obama as our ‘fierce advocate’) doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

  16. mcNnyc says

    Hey its hard to get a good paying JOB!
    And thats all this is. This is no signal about the Romney Campaign or anything else.
    Opportunist meet Opportunity.
    The money stay in the family.
    Policy will still be anti-gay this serves no one exempt Mr. Grenell and his “partner”.

  17. says


    yeah, it means sooo much. it’s like having GOProud get hired to draw your carriage. “Look! We’re being included!”

    No, you’re slaves.

    nobody with a functioning brain and an actual spine would fall for this. who will? insecure whiteboy homosexual conservatives who will take any opportunity to be a doormat for the GOP. enjoy it boys! the rest of us, alas, actually have our dignity.

  18. AG says

    Hateful, intolerant left-wingers who happen to be gay as usual do not miss to display the worst of their nature. You can always rely on towleroad to present the sewers of the Dem hackery.

  19. MrRoboto says

    For those defending Mr. Grennell, I have one question. Other than giving an interview saying he hopes to get married in New York soon, what exactly has he done for gay rights? Demonstrable, documentable proof of his advocacy for gay rights. Andrew Sullivan says he’s a “frequent advocate for…gays,” but I couldn’t find a single thing on the Internet. But I found an awful lot of information on his efforts on behalf of multimillion dollar companies. I’m not saying he’s not truly a “frequent advocate for…gays,” but I couldn’t find one shred of public evidence to support that assertion. To me, his appointment reminds me of the ineffectual cocktail party gays at HRC. Just because he came to your party, or invited you to his, does mean he’ll back you up when it comes to affording you your long overdue equal rights.

  20. says

    Just one, ONCE, I’d love to see one of this site’s ( or ANY) Gay Republicans, put a face and name to their conservative-defending comments and show us all, specifically, what pro-LGBT work they and their conservative family and community are DOING to promote and Champion LGBT Equality amongst other conservatives.

    truly. TRULY.

    Alas, it’s likely never gonna happen. Grow a pair, boys. Your smooth barbie crotches are all too visible.

  21. says

    MRROBOTO – it’s like GOProud’s stroke-mouthed posterboy Chris Barron.

    he hates the “gay left” – calls them the “American Taliban” – insists that hate crimes dont’ happen (unless they’re made-up ones where black youths attack republican gays..HAHAHA!), they do absolutely NOTHING for LGBT Equality, just insult those who do as “running around with rainbow flags”….and then he goes and gets married in DC where Marriage Equality is legal.

    he did NOTHING to bring marriage equality to DC. just those horrible leftist liberals did. the people he hates. then he went there to reap the benefits of their work.

    that’s the gay republican way. suck up to the communities that are ashamed of you by letting them know that you can’t stand liberals, then take advantage of all the work liberals do for you that your own chosen-people never would, and never WILL.

    that’s why gay conservatives hate liberals so much. we’re talking about a demographic of men who know damn well that the people they’ve been raised to hate are the only people in this country doing anything at all FOR them.

    that’s. gotta. hurt.

  22. Rick says

    @MRROBOTO Oprah Winfrey never did anything to advance “civil rights”, but by simply hosting her talk show and making tens of millions of people comfortable with an African-American woman, bonding with them, sharing their problems and issues with them, and making them love her…….she probably did more to advance the acceptance of blacks into the social mainstream than all the legislation that has ever been passed in the entire history of the country.

    And that is what some of you hard-core politicos just don’t get (or don’t want to acknowledge)–social progress has a lot more to do with making people like you and be comfortable with you…..feeling common bonds and shared values with you and respecting you…….than it has to do with passing laws or winning court cases……WAY MORE.

    But maybe that is what you are afraid of–your activism being rendered irrelevant by actions that really make a difference?

  23. TJ says

    JACK – Something we don’t “like” – you mean, openly working for people who have advocated for taking away the right to marry by constitutional amendment when you say you hope to marry is equivalent to, say, not “liking” broccoli, or the way that color makes your skin tone look, or country music? It’s just a matter of inconsequential opinion, or taste, that gets the knickers twisted?

  24. Rick says

    Has anyone else noticed that if you take your dentures out while you’re giving head at a gloryhole that your gums end up bruised after the third or fourth penis that’s been in your mouth? Any tips on how I can prevent further bruising to my gums? Leaving my dentures in is not an option.

  25. Rick says

    “Something we don’t “like” – you mean, openly working for people who have advocated for taking away the right to marry by constitutional amendment when you say you hope to marry is equivalent to, say, not “liking” broccoli, or the way that color makes your skin tone look, or country music? It’s just a matter of inconsequential opinion, or taste, that gets the knickers twisted”

    Imagine that every gay man or lesbian, particularly those in my age group (I am 54), had refused on principle to work for or have anything to do with anyone who is a homophobe in any area of their lives (even putting aside the absurdity of claiming that someone who would hire an openly gay man for such a prominent position is a homophobe)….imagine that we all had to disassociate ourselves from any homophobic family members.

    Just imagine. You would not be able to leave your house in the morning….and you certainly would not be able to change anybody’s attitudes.

    This is what I mean by extremists who do not have a rational real-world perspective.

  26. Andrew says

    @Rick, you could try letting them have a go at your other orifice, just to give your gums a rest. Perhaps alternating will do the trick. Let us know how it works out!

  27. Rick says

    @Andrew The “dentures” comment was authored by Little Kiwi, acting as an impostor, who is so deeply threatened by the lucidity and power of my arguments (as are others) that he has no choice but to try to divert attention from them.

  28. says

    How about you finally SHOW US, Rick, what kind of example you’re leading every single day?

    I do it. Click my name, see who i am and what i do and WHY.

    but just so we’re clear, you going out into the mainstream and insulting “effeminate” people doesn’t make you look impressive.

    I call your bluff – for the billionth time. Show us who you are and “what” you’re doing.
    ten bucks says your cowardly @ss cant’.


  29. Rick says

    @JACKFKTWIST In support of eradicating homophobia and eventually freeing men from their sexual and emotional dependence on women, which is my goal……and which has little to do with partisan politics and the passage of legislation, which I think will have minimal impact on the direction the culture takes

  30. TJ says

    If calling out hypocrisy, particularly by someone taking on a role in a political campaign (What, only job posted in the want-ads this week? Only person to offer a job? Starving?) makes me an extremist, I’ll take the label with pride.

  31. Randy says

    “Grenell worked in the Bush White House”

    The only signal that sends to me is that he’s entirely untrustworthy, and probably a self-centered jerk.

  32. Rick says

    “If calling out hypocrisy, particularly by someone taking on a role in a political campaign”

    And I assume you apply this policy evenhandedly and call out anybody who is gay who works for Obama or for Hillary Clinton (or who worked for Bill Clinton), since the first two are on record for opposing same-sex marriage and the third was opposed to it when he was in office. And that, in the name of fairness, if Romney is a homophobe for opposing same-sex marriage, you agree that it follows that Obama and Hillary are also homophobes.

    Right? Right.

  33. Michael Breen says

    Republicans suck, and Romney is the biggest suck of all. Its a great shame that Mr Grenall has anything to do with Republicans at all considering that their idea of Gays/Woman/Non Christian/non White/Non Conformist is so Naziesque.

  34. Max V says

    Richard Grenell is a misogynistic bigot who sold out the gay community in Uganda when he was John Bolton’s spokesman.

    He also has tweeted that Rachel Maddow “looks like a man,” and “should take a breath and put on a necklace.”

    Richard Grenell is the most self-loathing form of “openly” gay men: he mocks everyone who disagrees with him and reserves a special hatred for women. He is a pig.

  35. TJ says

    Hmmm, which Democratic candidate for president campaigned on a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality? Which party, and it’s members, want that as part of platforms? Which party uses gay-bashing to raise funds? Hmmm, let me think…

  36. says

    Nope, Romney isn’t homophobic at all: “’There’s been an assault on marriage,’ Romney said in the Faith and Freedom teleconference. ‘I think he [Obama] is very aggressively trying to pave the path to same-sex marriage. I would unlike this president defend the Defense of Marriage Act. I would also propose and promote once again an amendment to the constitution to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.’”

    In other words, Grenell would like to get married in NY so that the candidate he is speaking for can then propose a constitutional amendment that would nullify that marriage. He has bigger things to worry about than whether Rachel Maddow is wearing a necklace.

  37. MrRoboto says

    Just for the record, I’d say Oprah’s done considerably more for civil rights than simply appear on bigots’ TV screens every weekday afternoon at 3pm. She talked about civil rights issues on her program regularly. She spotlighted civil rights pioneers and everyday advocates on her program frequently. She put her money behind candidates who pushed for and successfully won civil rights legislation. Ken Mehlman, on the other hand, helped the Bush campaign use gay rights as a wedge issue to divide the nation and succeeded in setting back those civil rights for nearing on a decade now. Richard Grenell served under the same admnistration that demonized gays, fought against hate crimes protection, fiercely fought to keep DADT in place, worked vigorously to prevent passage of ENDA, encouraged constitutional amendments (both federal and stage) banning marriage equality, etc, etc, etc. I’m sorry, but willingly serving as Romney’s token gay, so the guy can stand in front of a TV camera and say, “I’m not a bigot, I even have gay friends,” doesn’t accomplish diddly squat. Except for access — for himself, and virtually no one else. Once again I ask, is there any evidence ANYWHERE that Richard Grenell has done ANYTHING in his many government-paid or access-driven positions to advance or advocate for gay rights? Is there? I can’t find it.

  38. Keepin' It Straight says

    So, this guy is sort of like Romney’s pet. Maybe he’ll get put in a cage and tied to the roof and driven around the campaign trail so everyone can see how Romney loves his pets. Woof, woof.

  39. EdA says

    In some fairness to Mittens, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney WAS willing to hire talented individuals to work for him in senior positions, regardless of their sexual orientation. After all, they were useful to him in pushing the agenda that he had at the time.

    Of course, this did not stop Mittens from publicly trashing their rights to have families the same as other people with themselves being present.

    If this guy Grenell makes himself available to answer questions, the first question he should be asked is why he would be willing to work for someone who viciously attacks the right of himself and his “partner of nine years” to get married if they were to want to, and the second question should be how his partner feels about his working for someone who vows to make them permanently second- or third-class citizens.

  40. Marcfab says

    I can only imagine the self-loathing this guy must carry. why else would he work for someone who has so unequivocably stated their hate for the LGBT community.

    What a sad sad little man

  41. Jimbo says

    Mr Grenell has closed down his personal website in the past week. (Gotta love webcache) I guess he’s planning his own etch-a-sketch version of his words and opinions.

Leave A Reply