David Frum

05.02.12

The Wrinkles in the Grenell Story

Byron York takes a look at the accusation the Richard Grenell was under pressure to leave Romney's campaign because social conservatives did not approve of him being hired as a spokesperson.

The problem with this telling of the story is that the main social conservative who pushed for Grenell to leave, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, is not someone Romney's campaign was likely to listen to:

Some publications on the left picked up on Rubin's report and suggested that Grenell had been driven from his job by, among others, Bryan Fischer, a top official at the social conservative American Family Association. Fischer is perhaps best known for a series of inflammatory statements about gays, Muslims, Mormons, and others.

Last October, Fischer was scheduled to speak after Romney at the Values Voter summit in Washington. Knowing Fischer's record, and already concerned by anti-Mormon comments from another attendee, Robert Jeffress, Romney decided to use his speech to condemn Fischer, although not by name.

"We should remember that decency and civility are values, too," Romney said. "One of the speakers who will follow me today has crossed that line. Poisonous language does not advance our cause." For his part, Fischer later took the stage and said, "The next president needs to be a man of sincere, authentic, genuine Christian faith" -- a remark widely construed as a suggestion that the Mormon Romney be excluded from consideration for the White House.

Now, some observers are suggesting that Fischer has so much influence inside the Romney campaign that he could drive Richard Grenell out of his new job. In fact, Fischer has no sway at all inside the Romney campaign, and he didn't drive Grenell or anyone else out of a job at Romney headquarters. Neither did the other (relatively few) social conservatives who complained about the Grenell hire.

Bryan Fischer is generally happy with the result anyway:

If my public comments about Romney's gay activist hire had anything to do with today's decision, I did the guv a big favor.