Richard Grenell has denied he was force out of his post as national security spokesman for the Mitt Romney campaign.

Anti-gay groups chided Romney for placing an openly gay person in a prominent position. He stepped down less than two weeks after he was hired.

In an interview with The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Grenell denied that he was forced off the campaign because of pressure from social conservatives.

“The right I'm very comfortable with, taking those hits and barbs, because I've had a 20-year career where I've worked for politicians, I've worked on elections, on campaigns, and I know exactly the trajectory of assaults from the far right,” he said.

“I resigned because I'm very passionate about foreign policy and national security issues,” he added. “When the messenger becomes part of the message – if you really care about these issues – you should step aside.”

Bryan Fischer of the Christian conservative American Family Association (AFA) led the charge against Grenell and cheered his resignation. Afterward, he suggested Romney was weak for giving in.

“If Mitt Romney can be pushed around, intimidated, coerced, co-opted by a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America, then how is he going to stand up to the Chinese?” Fischer asked on his AFA-sponsored show, Focal Point. “How is he going to stand up to Putin? How is he going to stand up to North Korea, if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me? I don't think Romney is realizing the doubts that this begins to raise about his leadership.”

The Obama campaign also criticized Grenell's resignation, suggesting that he was pushed out because of his sexual orientation: “Today we learned that in the year 2012, a Republican nominee for president can't have a gay person as spokesman,” Teddy Goff, a spokesman for the campaign, tweeted.

The Romney campaign immediately denied the charge, saying, “We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill.”

“The far left doesn't want a gay person to be conservative and the far right doesn't want a conservative to be gay,” Grenell told the paper. “Some of the most hateful, mean-spirited intolerant comments about me being the foreign policy and national security spokesman for Governor Romney … were coming from the far left.”

Grenell and his partner have purchased a home in Palm Springs which they plan to renovate.