Ric Grenell, Mitt Romney’s former foreign policy spokesman (of three weeks), hit the headlines yesterday. It must have been a tough day for the Romney campaign. The resignation of a major aide is hard enough, but when he resigns after twenty one days, it’s clear trouble is brewing.
Ric Grenell has impeccable Republican credentials. Serving four US ambassadors to the United Nations as Chief US spokesman, he carried many unpopular PR cans during the Bush presidency. When Romney appointed him as his foreign policy spokesman it seemed a logical choice. Then the trouble started.
Romney says Grenell’s sexuality (he is gay) was not an issue but it clearly was for some of Romney’s conservative contributors, as was Grenell’s previous endorsement of gay marriage. Angered by his appointment, the American Family Association said Grenell’s appointment sent a “drop dead” message to supporters of traditional values. Romney’s campaign managers asked Grenell to lay low as the protests within the party grew, hoping they would pass. They didn’t and he resigned citing the “hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues.”
The PR Verdict: “A” for Ric Grenell who left the campaign on his own terms. Grenell left as elegantly as he could, thanking Romney for making it clear his sexuality was not an issue. Clearly this was not the case for other Romney supporters.
PR Takeaway: Think carefully before picking sides. The ball is squarely in Romney’s court, now saddled with explaining how the party and its candidate are not captive to polarising social conservatives. Headlines like this will worry moderate voters who, if the polls are to be believed, are going to make the difference for Romney. Was this the wisest strategy?
To read more about Ric Grenell click here.
Whats your PR Verdict?