November 24th, 2007
12:45 PM ET
11 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.

Click here to see CNN's new political portal:

–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla

Filed under: Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • Race to '08
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Mark Weathers, Brooklyn New York

    Romney had homosexual indiscretions in great detail when he was young and irresponsible, so I think I will too!!! Oh noes, the power of suggestion wins again!

    November 24, 2007 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  2. Yan, Sudbury, ON

    So, it's fine to indulge in long as politicians don't discuss their indiscretions.

    Hurray for positive change!

    November 24, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  3. Paul, San Francisco, CA

    What a stupid thing to say! Let's not be honest about our mistakes; let's just pretend that "mistakes were made". How Nixonian, how Bush like!

    November 24, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  4. Jeff, Chandler AZ

    Absolutely agree. Presidential candidates and in fact, all adults, must never tell the truth about youthful indiscretions. Our youth might think that we are all just human. Prone to the same temptations where making the wrong choice leads to bad consequence. They may feel that, they, after having made the wrong decision about a temptation, may have a chance to redeem themselves and all is not lost. How dare our youth come to know this while still young. God forbid our youth understand that the adult teachers, parents, bosses, and yes, Presidential candidates, they may encounter were once just young people similar to them. Our youngsters must believe all adults running for President have made nothing but perfect choices in life since birth. Not being candid about past indiscretions, and our media not caring enough to print them when found, enabled us to vote in George W. Bush as President not once, but twice. 'nuf sed.

    November 24, 2007 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  5. Rick Cain, Tulsa, OK

    Thats okay. Romney now has his magic Mormon underpants to protect him from his indiscretions.

    November 24, 2007 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  6. Kiki, Bronx, NY

    The standard Mormon fare is probably incest of some kind. That, of course , is much better than smoking dope (which should be legalized anyway). Oh yes, GWB did leave it at that so only a few million people know he was doing lines at his father's innaugural ball.

    November 24, 2007 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  7. Dr Van Buren

    "Ask Mitt Anything" .... that he wants you to know

    November 24, 2007 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  8. Joseph, San Francisco

    "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.

    Posted By Shawnie – Grants Pass, OR : November 24, 2007 6:16 pm "

    I generally share the above view too. Most of us have used drugs recreationally and have slacked off at some point during school. Chances are good that most school-children today will have these experiences.

    That said, why emphasize bad habits. Most of us realize the dangers of recreational use of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana that some people could be getting into.

    It should be one of those things we don't talk about, because it is not good behavior that we should encourage. Obama telling these kids he did drugs and slacked off in school, just reinforces that behavior as more acceptable and less dangerous than we want to communicate to these impressionable minds.

    By all accounts, Obama chose to say this himself. That says to me that his moral compass is a bit off.

    November 24, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  9. BobN, San Francisco, CA

    so when someone asks you a direct question about drug use, you're supposed to evade the question, then campaign on a get-tough-on-drugs and throw-money-at-the-war-on-drugs stance? Bush didn't disclose the details of his "youthful indiscretions" because they were so extensive and lasted so long into his adulthood that if he had told the truth, he'd never have been elected. He wasn't protecting young people, he - and everyone who abetted him - did it to protect him.

    November 24, 2007 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  10. Inquirer Columbia, Missouri

    1.November 24th,
    2:47 pm The issues of judgment and experience are being pushed by Barack Obama in the effort of his campaign to catch up to Hillary Clinton.

    Obama has a point.

    And he made it recently at Manchester, N.H., Central High School in front of an audience of 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls and a sprinkling of adults.

    In response to a question put to him from the audience, Obama told the young folks of his abuse of alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, while in school. His point appeared to be that he had “wasted a lot of time.” It should be noted that Obama did not go so far as to warn his young audience about the dangers to them of alcohol and drug abuse, beyond this notion that it was a waste of time.

    Of course, as has been pointed out by others, Obama’s point was one thing; his implicit message was another: You can always quit. To be fair to Obama, he did not say exactly when he had quit; but it seemed clear that it was sometime after he had left high school.

    So there you have it.

    As for judgment and experience vis a vis Mrs. Clinton:

    Obama, by his own admission, has more experience with alcohol abuse than does Mrs. Clinton. (She has none.)

    Obama has more experience smoking marijuana than does Mrs. Clinton. (She has none).

    Obama has more experience snorting cocaine that does Mrs. Clinton. (She has none.)

    Thus, it seems abundantly clear that Obama’s admitted experience makes him a better judge of boozing, smoking marijuana and snorting cocaine than Mrs. Clinton.

    So folks, if you seek a presidential candidate with experience in boozing, pot smoking and cocaine snorting, then Obama obviously is your man, no doubt about it.

    And if it’s judgment you want in a presidential candidate, consider Obama, too, on the basis of his bragging about his alcohol and drug abuse in front of an impressionable audience of high school kids who just now may be forgiven for figuring that it’s O.K. to booze and do drugs because you can always quit — just like Mr. Obama.

    Mrs. Clinton can’t hold a candle to Obama on those matters, true enough. Think on it.

    November 24, 2007 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  11. skip, wash dc

    Mitt Romney's response is an undefined argument that looked for and found a purpose.

    If Obama had not mentioned his past, Romney would have complained that he should have used it as an oppotunity to say 'something'. The revelations of his past 'youthful indiscretion' is already out there.

    November 24, 2007 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  12. Christopher London, New York City

    Mitt Romney is grasping for straws looking for issues to highlight his "family values" over other candidates. There are families, individual people and children living a vastly different existence in America than the one that the "Ken Doll" has experience dealing with. This is the problem with people like Romney. While he may overall be a decent guy, this is a non issue that did not deserve his making a public statement. Perhaps if we saw these flawed humans for what they are, we would all be better able to analyze them as potential lears. One's evolution as a human being says alot about their character. Regardless of whether one intends to vote for Senator Obama, it is refreshing that someone could have Obama's background and rise up to a run for the Presidency. It says that the American Dream is alive and well.

    November 24, 2007 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  13. rick, spartanburg , sc

    take it easy on mitt...he had 7 mothers to help raise him...

    November 24, 2007 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  14. NewMexicoFan, Albuquerque, NM

    I think we have missed the point here. It is the way it was presented that was in error. It was one thing to say you have tried drugs, and recovered from them. However, what was not said or presented is I tried drugs, It was the absolutely the wrong thing to do, recovering from it was exptremely hard. Having gone down that road, I encourage you first to not experiment, and second to stop now.

    I don't think Romney wants people to be dishonest. He just does not want people in leadership positons to present to young people that experimentation is OK, everyone tries it even Presidental Candidates. For many people it is deadly, and for those that recover, it was extremely hard, and they were lucky.

    The younger generations in this elecronic world identify and follow the leaders they see. Their parents have much less of an impact on them, than in the 1800s. Britney, Obama, and many others are providing wrong powerful examples and images that we as a society should not encourage.

    Of course we cannot go back to prohibition. However, we can encourage the electronic examples to present this in a healthier way.

    We don't need, I have tried them with the indication that everyone does, I turned my life around, and now I want to be President. He should have said, I was young and foolish, I should have never experiemented with drugs, and I suggest you don't or stop now. I feel extreme fortunate that I survive that, as so many have not, and infact it has lead to disastorous lives, even death.

    I humble stand here before you, amazed that I am here to run for this great office.

    November 24, 2007 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  15. Daniel O

    If Obama's previous drug use was anybody's secret weapon that they are waiting swift boat him, then its a dead issue now.
    Otherwise, will Romney say that we ought to have glossed over the AIDS issue rather than tell the truth to our youth and let them make informed choices. Truth if used well will always bring out the best from mankind. America does not need a Romney president who will cover up the truth.
    Obama is right!

    November 25, 2007 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  16. Nick, Eugene, OR

    This proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Romney does not have the wisdom and leadership skills to be President...though I think that was already apparent with his "double Guantanamo" comment and the fact that he has switched his position on every major issue out of expediency.

    November 25, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  17. Liberal Chic

    joseph,austin,tx :

    Heh, heh. I bet that Romney, in his youth, maybe drank a little cider that had fermented in the back of his mom's fridge. Probably doesn't even have any indiscretions to come clean about.

    November 25, 2007 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  18. chris Chicago, IL

    I'm an adult and I still love indiscretions. I see it as just as useful as paying back big debt to Ancient Philosophical Warmonger posing as Lord God Lord. Somewhere in the crossover the Explication "Do not gather where moth and rust consume" is making my back ache and where are the kids? They come around for Christmas.

    You're all a bunch of dummies. Totally.

    November 25, 2007 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  19. Reality Check

    I like that the president of the US should be held out as a leader, not a coke snorting drunk who broke the law in his earlier years. Sure people make mistakes, but I don't need to hear about a candidates poor choices. What is next, are we going to dig up the candidates old elementary school report cards? How silly!

    I agree with Mitt. What is the message we are sending to America (and America's youth)? It is okay to dabble in illegal drugs? Do a little underage drinking? Obama is in a position to be heard by young people. Instead of fessing up to drugs, he should encourage them to follow the law, avoid drugs and make something of themselves. I find it weird that Obama wants to talk about his mistakes. I think most people by nature would hold poor personal choices very close.

    To all you posters that are being disrespectful to Mitt's religion, you really need to get a life. Talking about possible homosexual encounters and his magic underwear shows your intelligence (or lack thereof). Grow up.

    November 25, 2007 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  20. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    Read Romney's comments carefully. He said: "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 ... we open kids thinking that it's ok for them." Romney clearly was referring to situations when one is running for a higher office, someone that would be a representative of either it is a city, a state, or a country.

    How would we be perceived internationally if our president "was a goof off in high school and had experimented with drugs and alcohol?" I don't think we'd be the country taken by international community to a certain degree of seriousness.

    For those that mention "recovering addicts" and "nephews" in their comments – it has nothing to do with someone running for president. It is a responsibility and duty of every one of us to help and encourage those that may be in need of our support.

    Some call Obama's "experiment with drugs and alcohol" (to put it nicely) as honesty – I call it plain ignorance. Can he be 100% certain that no children understood him that it's ok to use drugs and drink alcohol – I still have a great chance to run for the president in the future? That was a very poor judgement on Obama's behalf!

    I can already see Headlines one of these days "Teen arrested for DUI who plans to run for president". Great headline, isn't it?

    Come on people, use your noggin sometimes.

    November 25, 2007 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  21. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    One more thing: Why do Ron Paul's supporters stick his name into every hole possible? I don't get it.

    November 25, 2007 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  22. Mike, Cincinnati Ohio

    Sounds like Larry Flynt needs to put out another $1M offer to anyone who comes forward with dirt on these dirtbag Republicans.

    November 25, 2007 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  23. Magliovelli, Menlo Park, CA

    I guess this means no stories about Romey and Vidal Sasoon.

    November 25, 2007 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  24. Dale Davis, Glendora, California

    Once again, as one reads these mixed responses, there are many with anti-Mormon responses. If the name Mormon was substituted with a name like Jewish or Catholic, I think there would be more outrage. I'm so disgusted with the hypocrisy of both the right wing religious bigots and the left wing secularists. They both come full circle and meet together in their intolerance.

    November 25, 2007 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  25. Joseph Reale Bitteford ME

    Bush was not YOUNG when he was irresponsible. In fact his presidential administration is best described by the adjective, irresponsible. Does Romney forget Bush's remark about his drinking days in New Orleans while inspecting the devestation after Katrina? The thing that turned off most people was not Bush's disclosure but its flippant tone and its inappropriate timeing. Mit needs to add "The Confessions of ST. Augustine" to his Christmas wish list.

    November 25, 2007 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
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