To repeat a point I made last night, if they muzzled Grenell to show social conservatives that they disapprove of gays, they’re going about the aftermath in an awfully funny way. Not only did Mitt himself turn up on “Fox & Friends” this morning and personally reiterate that he wanted Grenell to stay (skip to 3:55 of the clip below for that) but his right-hand man Eric Fehrnstrom singled out “voices of intolerance” whom Romney has confronted before — a thinly veiled reference to Bryan Fischer — in his own hit this a.m. on MSNBC. Conservative talk radio host Steve Deace hit back on Twitter:
“So at the same [time] the Romney campaign is demanding loyalty pledges from its base, it calls its base ‘voices of intolerance,’ ” he wrote in one. “What Romney’s spokesman did tonight was bring aid and comfort to the enemy, which is the act of a traitor,” he said in another.
“Ask your Christian leader trying to get you to vote for Romney if he agrees with Romney campaign that Christians are ‘voices of intolerance,’” tweeted conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace — one of 17 missives on the subject.
I don’t understand the Romney campaign’s schizophrenia on this issue. On the one hand, they were willing to hire Grenell, made a determined effort to convince him to stay, and are dogged enough in his defense to risk irritating social cons by slamming the “intolerance” of his critics. On the other hand, Romney himself is a longstanding opponent of gay marriage and, according to multiple media outlets, the campaign did ask Grenell to lie low for awhile shortly after he was hired until the “controversy” finally fizzled. I assume that rising support for gay marriage has now forced Romney to play both sides of this issue in kinda sorta the same way that Obama does. Mitt won’t/can’t support gay marriage but he will take a stand for meritocracy by hiring employees regardless of orientation and repudiating anti-gay “intolerance.” Will that gain him more socially liberal swing voters than it’ll lose him among his base? Guess we’ll see.