November 24th, 2007
12:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney: Refrain from discussing 'indiscretions'

Romney campaigned through New Hampshire on Saturday.

DERRY, New Hampshire (CNN) – Following his "Ask Mitt Anything" event in Amherst, Mitt Romney told voters and reporters that presidential candidates should refrain from discussing with young people their early life "indiscretions."

The former Massachusetts Governor's statements were a response to Sen. Barack Obama's visit to a Manchester high school Tuesday where he told students he was a "goof off" in high school and had experimented with drugs and alcohol.

"I agree with the sentiment that nobody's perfect and most of us, if not all of us, in our youthful years have engaged in various indiscretions we wouldn't want to have paraded in the front of a newspaper," Romney said. "On the other hand if we're running for president, I think it's important for us not to go into details about the weaknesses and our own failings as young people for the concern that we open kids thinking that it's ok for them."

Romney told the crowd that he would subscribe to President Bush's strategy of handling matters of poor judgment from one's youth.

"He said when he was young and irresponsible, he was young and irresponsible, and he left it at that," Romney said of the President, "And I think that in order to leave the best possible example for our kids, we're probably wisest not to talk about our own indiscretions in great detail."

Following the event, Romney participated in the Derry parade, where he greeted locals, one by one for a one and half mile stretch.

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–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla

Filed under: Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • Race to '08
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Dan, Tx

    Turns out that whether you admit your youthful indiscretions or not, the youth engage in youthful indiscretions. It is the daily exposure to our culture vs parental and family love that matters, not what some presidential candidates say, that influence what kids do.

    November 24, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. joseph,austin,tx

    Soooooooooooooo Mitt what did you do, that so bad that you're hiding form us?

    November 24, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  3. Juanito, Washington, DC

    And who cares what Romney thinks?
    Oh please...

    November 24, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. Dallas, CA

    Look at that man's head/hair/smile. It is as plastic as a Ken Doll.

    Keep on covering up your past "indiscretions," Mitt, like being in favor of gay marriage and abortion rights. Maybe you can head over to "Paradise" with Freddie and pick yourself up a purty gun and shoot anyone who dare suggest you be as transparent and honest as Barack. Horrors!

    November 24, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  5. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    I like Obama, but I got the same impression. That telling them about his drug days, etc. was a message that it was OK for them because look how Obama turned out....Problem is MOST kids that engage in that kind of behavior don't recover from it. Some do, but they are the exception. I think he was trying a little to hard to "fit in" and relate to these kids and really, they don't need another buddy that is doing what they are doing, they need a role model. It justifies complacency more than it inspires.

    November 24, 2007 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  6. Barack Obama for President

    When I was in sixth grade, my catholic school arranged for some recovering addicts to come and speak with my class in an effort to encourage us from going down a path that we would regret. It had a lasting impact on me, and I think that it did so because it was honest, and even graphic.

    Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" program failed. You can't be vague with young people and expect them to get your message.

    Mitt Romney is wrong about this, and the American people have learned that honesty and integrity are the most important characteristics that we can hope for in our leaders. Add to that, the ability to learn from past mistakes, and you have someone with the potential to make a great president.

    Interestingly, as I type this, I realize that Hillary does not have honesty, integrity or the ability to learn from past mistakes (healthcare reform, Iraq). Unfortunately for her, these are not qualities that you can learn or spin or project in a 30 second debate soundbite.

    Let's wake up America. We have a once in a generation opportunity in front of us.

    November 24, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. Dean, Eugene, OR

    It is possible to go threw adolescence with out using/”experimenting” will illegal drugs. It’s important for would be roll models to use discretion when approaching the topic of drugs and alcohol use. Good for Mitt Romney.

    November 24, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  8. Walt, Belton, TX

    Ron Paul makes them both look like second choices, at best. Libertarianism is Freedom at its' best, and Ron Paul believes it. He's the only one I can honestly say that I trust completely!

    November 24, 2007 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  9. Barbara, Eagan, MN

    Excuse me? We live in a country where opposition researchers work 25/8 to ferret out every real and perceived indiscretions of every candidate. Why? In order to blindside and humiliate them. I call Obama's revelations pre-emptive strikes against the Republican attack machine. And, to be fair, the Dems are likely poking around for the same kind of dirt about Republicans. It's American as pumpkin pie.

    November 24, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. TD, Waco, TX

    Sorry Mitt, most of us didn't have perfect little wealthy Mormon upbringings like you did. Some of us actually experienced real life at some point.

    November 24, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  11. Mary, Vernon Hills IL

    My sons, ages 30 and 26 were concerned about the path that my nephew, age 18, was taking with alcohol and drugs. They shared their views, including talking about some of their mistakes at that age. They explained how those indiscretions set them back. My sons are college grads and very successful businessmen now. My nephew, who has completely turned himself around for the better credits my sons for "saving his life". Kids respond best to honesty and real life examples from people they love and admire. I agree with Obama's approach with youth.

    November 24, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  12. jmellen

    I'm not sure about the Bush strategy – now he is just old and irresponsible.

    To be serious though, today's kids look for honesty. Admitting past mistakes are far better than finding them in the news later on. I think the message needs to be that everyone makes mistakes but they come with risks and should be avoided.

    November 24, 2007 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  13. Ivan, Chicago, Illinos

    You protest to much, are you afraid that you might be asked what you did in your youth?
    I guess you want people to believe that your as pure as the driven snow.

    November 24, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  14. PW Va

    I prefer Senator Obama's openess any day over Mitt's "glossing over" the truth. Mitt really is doing a great disservice to the young people of this country, by implying that they "can't handle the truth." No, Mitt, I belive it's you and the majority of the GOP who are incapable of facing matters head-on and that's a definite attribute one should possess in running for the highest office in the land. Go home,'re not prepared for this gargantuan undertaking!

    November 24, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  15. James,Nashua,nh

    Who believe Mitt Romney. He is closely following what Obama is saying and trying to belittle him. I don't think saying that in New Hemsphire where Obama told those Kids his life as a young person was a good idea. I think he is confusing those youths who felt encouraged not to waste time drinking alot and going after girls alot. I think it was a message that was very good to kids that have felt left out.
    Romney always try to fit in in anything when is politically convinient....Not suprised.

    November 24, 2007 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  16. Marcus, Chicago

    Bush's unwillingness to cop to the exact depths of his previous 'indiscretions' plays out in Bush's unwillingness to cop to the intellectual and emotional failings that led to his disastrous presidency. A man who is so ashamed of admitting bad judgement in his personal past is a man who won't admit to bad judgement in his current situation as well. Sorry Mitt, but we've all had enough of politicians who believe that the American people are so stupid or so incapable of processing complex information that they should be kept in the dark when it comes to knowing who the men and women running for office REALLY are. If you're afraid of people knowing too much about you, that's YOUR problem, not ours.

    November 24, 2007 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  17. PretzelsOne, Wichita Falls, Texas

    I agree with Romney. Most of us have things in our past we are not proud of and would not want to have made public. Unfortunately, Romney has held himself up to be such a paragon of virtue that anything he has ever done is fair game. What's he hiding? Did he snort a little? Did he, horror of Mormon horrors, have a drink or two. Or was it something more sinister? It doesn't matter, of course. After this, he is raw meat. Let the feeding frenzy begin.

    November 24, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  18. Mark, Pleasanton, CA

    Of course a GOP candidate would say something like this, so that he could use opposition research to dig up his opponent's indescretions at a later date in the campaign and use the information for his own political gain.

    The reason modern candidates reveal their past foibles voluntarily and early is that they have learned that past mistakes will be used against them by their opponents if they are not mentioned. It's a matter of pre-emption.

    November 24, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  19. Ron Nebraska

    So let's see, we can have a choice between candor and honesty or deception and the continuance of hiding facts from us to lead our country. Boy, that is a tough choice allright! Whatever will we do?

    November 24, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  20. ne,pa

    Obama has more concern for those kids then Romney by far!

    Romney will do or say whatever it takes to win! I see right through him and wouldn't even consider voting for him.
    He's a slick phony!

    November 24, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  21. eric, NY, NY

    I totally agree with Romney on this. There was NO reason for Obama to mention drug use at a children's school and think he was just trying to be too cute by half/

    November 24, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  22. Nicholas, Apache Junction, AZ

    Ask Mitt Romney, now that President Bush is old and irresponsible is this the best possible strategy?

    Being irresponsible is not about age.

    As being human and recognizing that we all make mistakes. It is each one's to learn from our mistakes when young.

    Some learn from them some don't. Ask the President.;x$#@@$%$

    November 24, 2007 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  23. Dan, Saint Louis, MO

    Amen to all you sane people realizing the stupidity of Obama's comments.

    First, it's very poor judgment to, unpromted, start trying to be cool and regailing kids about all the "drinking and drugs" you experimented with in school. The obvious message is that you can experiment away and still become president of the United States. This is a page out of the books of parents who try to be their kid's friend and be cool, instead of setting an example and getting respect.

    Second, this is just plain dumb politics. There's a reason politicians don't go around saying things like this. It shows Obama's total lack of experience and will not be something that middle-of-the-road voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin like to hear about. Dumb move.

    November 24, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  24. Wade Ens Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    Its the kids that are talking about Bill Clinton's indecreation not the adults.

    November 24, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  25. NewMexicoFan, Albuquerque, NM

    I don't often agress with Mr. Romney, but I think he is right on this one. I am told, by presented an image that you were just like them at one time, justifies what they are doing, and even encourages them to try it. Some people can experiment with things and not become addicted. However, addicted personnalities will go from a minor drug to a mainline drug. These people should never try any sort of drugs or be encourage to. Who know the personalities in tha audiance and the harm done.

    Therefore I think that Mr. Obama showed a lack of experience and very poor judgement on his part in his words to this very young group of people.

    Maybe we were wrong about his being Presidental Material.

    November 24, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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