Fred Karger is the first openly gay presidential candidate on a major party platform — and he’s doing it from the Republican Party.He’s worked on nine presidential campaigns — including work as a senior consultant on campaigns for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford.
So when news broke that Richard Grenell — Mitt Romney’s openly gay spokesman leading the campaign on the issues of foreign policy and national defence — resigned yesterday, Karger was furious. His target: “extreme” evangelical leaders on the far right that handcuffed Romney on the issue.
“It’s a very sad day for this country, that the far right forced an incredibly talented professional out of the Romney campaign,” Karger told Business Insider late last night in a phone interview. He didn’t pin the blame on Romney, but he said he was troubled by the inability to stand up to the evangelical groups.
He then tore into the evangelical leaders that had pressured Grenell and the Romney campaign, which reportedly led to his decision to resign from the campaign. In particular, he targeted the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who spoke out vehemently against the Romney hire from the beginning, saying it was like telling the “pro-family” community to “drop dead.”
“It speaks very horribly about the state of politics — that these bullies like Bryan Fischer, who I saw several times on television attacking Rick Grenell, who I’m sure he’s never even met,” Karger said. “Mr. Grenell has impeccable credentials. He worked eight years in the Bush administration.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Fischer told Business Insider he was “happy” that Grenell had decided to resign, and that it signaled it would be a “long time before Gov. Romney hires another homosexual activist.”
Grenell resigned Wednesday, as first reported by The Washington Post. In a statement to the Post, Grenell blamed “hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues.” In addition to getting blasted by the far right, he also found himself in hot water with many liberals over some tweets that he later scrubbed from his account.
But it appears, from both sides of the account, that the evangelical leaders like Fischer forced Grenell’s hand. The Romney campaign didn’t exactly back him up, either, failing to even include him on a foreign policy conference call.
“Mitt Romney made a very smart hire, and I commended him at the time for it,” Karger told Business Insider. “And I think it’s sad that bullies from the right decided to go after someone with his qualifications just because he happens to be gay.”
“I’m sure they’re happy now and celebrating,” Karger added of the evangelical leaders like Fischer and Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council. “But it’s a shortsighted, terrible thing. Both of those organisations are nothing more than hate groups.”
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