Romney’s worst enemy

Right-wing radio host Bryan Fischer says Romney "is going to be far more careful" after a gay aide resigned Tuesday

Topics: Mitt Romney,

Romney's worst enemyBryan Fischer (Credit: Jeff Malet/MaletPhoto.com)

How much of an impact will culture-warrior and anti-gay obsessive Bryan Fischer have on the election? Plenty, if you take the resignation today of Richard Grenell, Mitt Romney’s openly gay foreign policy spokesman, to be a casualty of the American Family Radio host’s crusade against him. “I was kind of pleasantly surprised,” Fischer says of Grenell’s resignation, adding, “I think Governor Romney is going to be far more careful now.”

Grenell, a former Bush aide, had just last month criticized the Obama administration in the Washington Blade for not doing enough for gays and lesbians. (Grenell also came under fire from liberals for a spate of sexist tweets.) On April 20, Fischer was the first to condemn Grenell, tweeting: “Romney picks out & loud gay as a spokesman. If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop dead.”

Though his radio audience is larger, Fischer currently has fewer than 1,400 Twitter followers. But within a day Buzzfeed was on the case, asking for (and not getting) comment from the Romney campaign. Meanwhile, fellow “family values” conservatives like Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer were only too happy to agree that Grenell had to go, and Fischer started making the television rounds.

“The reason I was concerned is that this, I believe, was a shout-out on Governor Romney’s part to the homosexual lobby, because he knew that Grenell was a homosexual activist,” Fischer says, noting that the hire came only after several Christian right groups and the National Organization for Marriage had already endorsed Romney. “Richard Grenell could not possibly have been the only qualified individual that Governor Romney could find … If it wasn’t about homosexuality, than why did so many gay rights groups celebrate the hire?”



Upon resigning, Grenell told the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, “My ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign.” So is Fischer, whose Twitter stream is a steady diet of anti-gay invective and Romney skepticism, convinced that he won?

“Governor Romney may not do the right thing out of political conviction, but he will do the right thing out of political expediency, and this I think would be an example,” Fischer says. “This is what I think is good for the pro-family community. … I think it’s going to be a long time before he hires another homosexual activist in a prominent position in his campaign.”

Still, Fischer isn’t on board now with Romney. The two have some history predating Grenell. Fischer, who has attacked Mormonism and blamed gays for the Holocaust, was called out by Romney at CPAC last October. “We should remember that decency and civility are values too,” Romney said at the time. “One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line, I think.” A spokesman later confirmed to Politico that Fischer was the intended target. Fischer says he took that, too, as a shout-out to the “homosexual lobby.”

Fischer never really quite gave up on Santorum, as recently as April 4 writing, “If, for the sake of argument, Romney wins the nomination, social conservatives had better shift their intense focus to taking over the Senate and the House, as we will not have a reliable ally in the Oval Office no matter who wins in November. Obama will be an in-your-face adversary on social issues, and Romney will be a splintered reed on which to lean at best. He has, of course, been saying the right things on the campaign trail, but his record (as opposed to his rhetoric) is reason for grave concern.”

Would he grant Romney an endorsement if the campaign sought it? “I think that’s about as likely as a meteor hitting your living room tonight,” he says dryly, though he adds he was “extremely encouraged” by Grenell’s resignation. But is that enough for him to drop the misgivings that Romney is actually a cultural conservative? “Do I trust him?” Fischer says. “No.”

Irin Carmon

Irin Carmon is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @irincarmon or email her at icarmon@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 22
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Talking Heads, 1977
    This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
    Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Blondie, 1977
    This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
    They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
    Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bathroom, 1977
    This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
    Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977
    “The kids are all hopped up and ready to go…” View from the unique "side stage" at CBGB's that you had to walk past to get to the basement bathrooms.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
    Jarmusch was still in film school, Parker was starring in Jim’s first film "Permanent Vacation" and Klaus just appeared out of nowhere.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
    When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Dictators, Bowery 1976
    Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
    We were on the median strip on the Bowery shooting what became a 45 single sleeve for Alex’s “Bangkok.” A drop of rain landed on the camera lens by accident. Definitely a lucky night!

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery view, 1977
    The view from across the Bowery in the summer of 1977.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
    I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
    Richard exiting CBGB's with his guitar at 4am, about to step into a Bowery rainstorm. I’ve always printed the shots of him in the rain, but this one is a real standout to me now.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
    May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Legs McNeil, 1977
    Legs, ready for his close-up, near the front door of CBGB's.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Suicide, 1977
    Rev and Alan Vega – I thought Alan was going to hit me with that chain. This was the Punk Magazine Benefit show.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ian Hunter and Fans, outside bathroom
    I always think of “All the Young Dudes” when I look at this shot. These fans had caught Ian Hunter in the CBGB's basement outside the bathrooms, and I just stepped in to record the moment.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Tommy Ramone, 1977
    Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery 4am, 1977
    End of the night garbage run. Time to go home.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>