New Romney Aide Tries To Erase His Digital Past

Last week, Mitt Romney named Richard Grenell as his new foreign policy spokesperson. At the time, the most noteworthy thing about the appointment was the fact that Grenell is openly gay, which led some social conservatives to denounce the appointment. It also turns out, though, that Grennell has a history of saying some rather unfortunate things online that he or someone else has been feverishly trying to erase:

NEW YORK — Richard Grenell, a former Bush administration official who joined the Romney campaign Thursday as national security and foreign policy spokesman, appears to have deleted more than 800 of his past tweets following scrutiny over numerous swipes aimed at the media, prominent Democratic women and the Gingriches. Grenell also apparently took down his personal site, which featured writing on politics, foreign affairs and the media.

On Friday afternoon, Grenell still featured a link to his personal site ( on his Twitter profile, which then showed that he had tweeted 7,577 times, according to a screenshot taken Friday by The Huffington Post. By Sunday morning, Grenell’s Twitter feed only listed 6,759 tweets and his personal site is no longer available. (Some examples of past writing have been archived on the Internet and can be found here.)

In the Twitter-fueled 2012 election, it’s not surprising that reporters quickly began digging through Grenell’s Twitter feed, even before he got a chance to scrub out a number of impolitic and sexist comments.

ThinkProgress noted Grenell’s tendency to make cutting remarks about the appearances of prominent women in media and politics, including his tweet advising MSNBC host Rachel Maddow “to take a breath and put on a necklace,” and another suggesting she resembled a Justin Bieber.

In another tweet, Grenell wrote that “Hillary is starting to look liek Madeline [sic] Albright.” He discussed First Lady Michelle Obama working out and “sweating on the East Room carpet.” He also asked whether Callista Gingrich’s “hair snaps on,” and on another occasion, commented how Gingrich’s third wife “stands there like she is wife #1.” Politico flagged more examples and noted Grenell’s “old pastime” of “ridiculing the Gingriches.”

When contacted about Romney’s hiring of Grenell and his removal of online writing, a campaign spokesperson referred The Huffington Post to a response Grenell gave to Politico. “My tweets were written to be tongue-in-cheek and humorous but I can now see how they can also be hurtful,” Grenell said. “I didn’t mean them that way and will remove them from twitter. I apologize for any hurt they caused.”

The apology is what it is, but deleting tweets and taking down a website strike me as pretty silly. Moreover, while it’s true that Twitter is often a very tongue-in-cheek in environment, one would think that someone in Grenell’s position would know better than to behave like a college frat boy on a social media network. Doesn’t everyone know that you can’t ever really erase anything from the Internet?

This may or may not be a big deal, but as the old saying goes sometimes the coverup is worse than the crime and now, it strikes me, Grenell is just going to leave people wondering what he didn’t want them to see.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Environment, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    now, it strikes me, Grenell is just going to leave people wondering what he didn’t want them to see.

    He only removed the anti-Romney rants Doug. Really…. It was all about his new bosses feelings. Really.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Kind of think his bigger problem is less about Tweets and more about being a quisling working for an openly anti-gay party and an openly anti-gay candidate.

  3. @michael reynolds:

    Or a President who opposes same-sex marriage.

    Oh, wait.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    I agree that Obama is wrong on this and it’s shameful.

    But he’s better than Romney. DADT? And the Democratic party is better than the GOP by a mile. The GOP will spend a significant part of its convention denouncing gay people, and this guy will sit there grinning.

  5. anjin-san says:

    @ Doug

    I’m afraid “both sides do it” will not cut the mustard. It is true that Obama has let us down on marriage rights. But, if you ask 10,000 gays/lesbians who they want to see in power, I think we both know what 9997 of them are going to say, and it ain’t “Republicans”…

  6. James says:

    Could we make “both sides do it” something like Godwin’s Law?

  7. Rick Almeida says:


    We could! We can call it “the Mataconis Conjecture”.

  8. anjin-san says:

    “the Mataconis Conjecture”

    Sounds like a Ludlum novel. Maybe this is going somewhere…

  9. An Interested Party says:

    Could we make “both sides do it” something like Godwin’s Law?

    Doug would never be able to post anything ever again…

  10. Hey Norm says:

    And Doug thinks the Etch-a-Sketch thing is silly.
    Scrubbing history is how it works though, right?
    Republicans need everyone to forget their history…the economy…their obstructionism…their hatred for others.
    The Etch-a-Sketch party and the Etch-a-Sketch nominee.

  11. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: Look at the bigger picture. The Bible (oh dear, now I’ve identified myself as “one of those people, oh well…) says “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Grenell’s heart is probably fixed on power, the profit that can come from having and using said power, and the ability to influence others because he has been is positions of power. As an “out”, he needs the chance to become and “in” again and Mitt is the only game in town for the right at this moment. I’m sure that if Santorum had been in the lead, he go with that campaign if it asked (but I doubt they would have).

    How can he sell out the gay community by being a Republican? That one is easy, he’s not selling anyone or anything out on that front because social conservatism has no traction in politics–even among “social conservatives.” Faced with a choice between a conservative candidate that will hammer through a DOM constitutional ammendment while raising taxes and one who will throw DOM under the bus but cut “my (whoever “I” is) taxes” and put a stop to those “leeches” getting welfare, even the most ignorant bigotted homophobic cracker in Dixie is going to vote his wallet (or what he perceives is his wallet).
    Who is Grennell selling out? Nobody, because even Canute could not stop the tide. Being a Republican is all gain and no pain.

    Now on the question of how anyone can go with that bankrupt economic theory the right is still peddling is another story, but my guess is that since it works well for the Dougs and the Mitts, and the Paul Ryans of the nation and their philosophy dictates that they have no obligations to anyone else…well, you’re smart enough to connect the rest of those dots on your way to Europe next June (or whenever you go next).

  12. labman57 says:

    Grennell’s tasteless tweets were not so much tongue-in-cheek as they were head-up-ass.

  13. ck says:

    I don’t understand the flack Obama gets for “opposing” same-sex marriage. His opposition is entirely rhetorical – he has done nothing to prevent any state from adopting SSM. The only concrete thing he has done that affects SSM in any way is ceasing to defend DOMA on appeal, which is a decidedly pro-gay move.

    Sure, he’s almost certainly lying for political advantage when he says he’s against SSM. In an ideal world, we’d have better politicians that didn’t do that sort of thing. But Obama is the most pro-gay politician that could possibly have gotten elected President in the political environment of 2008.