Mitt Romney said he didn't remember the prep school prank he pulled on a boy in Michigan, but apologized if it had caused any hurt.
The presumed Republican presidential nominee was responding Thursday to questions from radio host Brian Kilmeade on his show about a Washington Post article that had just been published that morning. Several of Romney's former classmates had told reporter Jason Horowitz about an incident in 1965 in which Romney held down a gay student and cut his hair because he didn't like the way he looked.
I had no idea that this person might have been gay and as the article points out, I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks in high school, he said on Kilmeade and Friends. Some may have gone too far and for that I apologize.
Kilmeade brought up more details from the Washington Post article, in which Horowitz reports -- with the help of anecdotes from five former students -- that Romney pranked John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney who was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. After a three-week spring break in 1965 on the Cranbrook School campus in Michigan, Romney reportedly teased Lauber for a new bleach-blonde haircut.
He can't look like that. That's wrong. Just look at him! an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann's recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber's look, Friedemann recalled.
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A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school's collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber's hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.
You know, I don't remember that incident, Romney said laughing. I certainly don't believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s, so that was not the case.
Earlier, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul told the Washington Post that Romney had no recollection of the incident and that it seemed exaggerated. Anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn't have a mean-spirited bone in his body, Saul said.
The report may be bad timing for the Romney campaign, since Obama became the first president to publically support same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC on Wednesday.
H/t to Buzzfeed, which has the audio of the full interview.