May 10th, 2012
04:55 PM ET
3 years ago

Romney apologizes for high school 'teasing'

(CNN) - Mitt Romney apologized for any "teasing or taunts" he carried out in high school that others deemed offensive and possibly homophobic, following a Thursday news article that included first hand accounts from his time at an all-boys prep school.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said he did not specifically remember two incidents described in the Washington Post story, but said other student's sexual orientation was "the furthest thing from our minds in the 1960s."

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"As to the teasing or taunts that go on in high school, that's a long time ago," Romney said on Brian Kilmeade's radio show Thursday. "If there's anything I said that was offensive to someone I certainly am sorry about that, very deeply sorry about that but there was no harm intended."

Asked about the incident by CNN at a campaign event in Omaha, Nebraska, Romney did not respond, but he did in an interview later in the afternoon. The candidate repeated that he did not remember the event, but had done "some stupid things in high school," and offered his apology to anyone who had been hurt if the alleged incident did take place.

"I don't recall the incident but I am seeing the reports and I will not argue with that," he said on Fox News. "And, obviously if I hurt anyone by virtue of that I would be very sorry and apologize for it."

Kilmeade specifically referenced an incident recounted in the story in which a fellow student at the prestigious Cranbrook School in Michigan was pinned down and his hair cut by a group of boys, including Romney. The student had bleached-blond hair draped over one eye, a different look than sported by other students.

He also described an anecdote in the Post story from a former classmate and closeted gay man at the time, who said Romney would respond to comments he made by saying "atta girl."

Although Romney said he didn't remember that, he added the term is often used at a boy's school.

"People say 'hey, atta girl," Romney explained. "But as this person indicated, he was closeted I had no idea he was gay."

In a statement to the Post, spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: "Anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn't have a mean-spirited bone in his body."

"The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents," she said.

Romney's campaign distributed statements from two of his former high school classmates on Thursday afternoon, including one from John French, who said, "Mitt never had a malicious bone in his body – trying to imply or characterize him as a bully is absurd."

Former classmate Richard Moon said Romney was "a thoughtful guy with a great sense of humor."

"He had a good perspective on how to balance all the pressures high school students face," Moon said. "He would never go out and do anything mean spirited. Clownish, yes. Never mean."

Ann Romney often says her husband was a prankster in high school, when the two began dating. And in Thursday's interview the former Massachusetts governor partially credited his wife of 42 years with his growth since high school, a point almost made in the Post article.

"I became a very different person as I met Ann and then as I went off and served as a missionary for my church," Romney said. "I mean there are elements in life that change you, and I'm a very different person than I was in high school of course."

"There are going to be some who want to talk about high school," he added. "It's like if you really think that's important be my guest."


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Dave

    "In a statement to the Post, spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: "Anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn't have a mean-spirited bone in his body."
    --------------------–
    Really? You wouldn't know that from the utterly filthy and dishonest campaign Romney is running. He was an arrogant bully in high school and it seems nothing has changed.

    May 10, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. gr8usa

    Yes, people who were bullied by Mitt and his high school gang of prep school brats do think it's very important to them. Trust me, I would remember and have very negative feelings against anyone who held me down and cut my hair.

    Oh, and I'm sure his hard times during his Mormon missionary work in FRANCE really made him more compassionate. Missionary work in France? Were Africa and the Pacific Islands missionary posts already full that year???

    May 10, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. Independant Texan

    Prep school grad, Harvard grad---– Impressive -– I`m sure he can "feel" the middle class`s pain, aren`t you !!?!?!!

    May 10, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. anagram_kid

    "In a statement to the Post, spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: "Anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn't have a mean-spirited bone in his body."
    ----------------
    What??? Has she seen this man on the campaign trail? Has she seen the ads his super pac and his campaign ran against other candidates? After the term ‘bold faced liar’ I would say 'mean-spirited' is the best description of Gov. Romney.

    May 10, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  5. tykl

    Another great "not record" topic by the Chicago smoke and mirror show.

    May 10, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. JoeW

    Well, yes it is important! Actions and lack of actions define who you are. Willard Romney still looks and thinks like a silver spooned preppy brat. Identify any policy that he supports that is not a "I'm / we are better than you – stay in your appropriate place policy!" And, don't reference his BS trickle down economic policy. It does not work here. He is for wealth and power and keeping that wealth and power EXACTLyY where it is today. The only cotradiction is that his policies make it worse. I will name just 1 – Trillions more for defense when we already spend more than the rest of the world combined. Exactly who is it, that most profits from that policy. This guy is an absolute joke.

    May 10, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. Mike

    Funny to watch CNN try to paint Romney as the "anti-gay candidate" now that Obama"s views on the issue have "evolved" and he has taken a turn to support gay marriage. Just remember what Axlerod and his crew have been calling Romney for having "evolving" views: a flip-flopper. Not calling any candidate a flip-flopper; just pointing out the irony.

    May 10, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    "If there's anything I said that was offensive to someone I certainly am sorry about that, very deeply sorry about that but there was no harm intended."'
    -----------------
    What a sad and weak issue to bring up in a presidential campaign. It probably came out of the Rove think tank.

    Why is it that conservatives always have to qualify an apology with an "if"? It's almost like if no one found the issue offensive, then it was okay. If you didn't find the issue offensive then, "I'm not apologizing to you." When you issue an apology, it is supposed to come from the heart. A heart felt apology doesn't contain an "if" at all.

    May 10, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Why do we know virtually NOTHING about Obama's life before he ran for the Senate? I mean other than the self serving trash he wrote in his books. Has ANYBODY in the LSM done their job and looked back into his past? Or are they too occupied with covering it all up and keeping it buried?

    May 10, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. Carlos

    Who didn't do something silly during adolescence? Bringing this up as relevant now is just ridiculous.

    May 10, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Hank

    So for alexithemic Mitt, "bullying" has become only a "prank"? He always was and continues to be so very Eddie Haskell. Who would trust this guy?

    May 10, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. Wing Shot

    Keeping digging. Can you believe this crap. Give me break.

    May 10, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. Greg

    So Romney is a bully as well.

    May 10, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  14. gr8usa

    Carlos, Something silly and holding another kid down and physically tormenting him is something different. The fact that Mitt can't be a responsible human, call his high school classmates and personally apologize to them is another sign that he has no spine.

    May 10, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. andy

    I'm gay and will be voting for Obama in November. I don't care for Mitt Romney but I certainly would never hold him responsible for behavior when he was in high school. I'm more concerned about his record at Bain and his excessive wealth made at the expense of middle class workers.

    May 10, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Al-NY,NY

    Oh Mitt. You, Chip and Skippy sure were the scamps weren't you?? I bet the ivied walls of your prep school were just oh-so-welcoming to "them." The blue blazers with striped tie and tan pants you wore every day probably got a little soiled when you held him down and cut his hair. No problem though. Daddy and mummy probably made sure you had at least 5 of them ready to go, along with the penny-loafers.

    May 10, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Tex71

    Ah, here come the skeletons.

    May 10, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Ron Donaghe

    Oh yes, what happened in high school can be very important, especially to the victims who will remember the bullying on into adulthood. I was bashed in junior high school, and even though it's not a poor-me kind of memory about it, I was shaped by those experiences to make me always root for the underdogs of the world. How others, like the kid who was held down while Romney cut off his blond locks, remember and what they make of their experiences might not be as positive as mine; and yet, here, we get to see a mature gay basher, who claims he cannot remember what he did. In such a case, then, he hasn't had to learn from his mistakes.

    May 10, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Mgc tampa

    Sorry, holding someone down and cutting their hair is not normal boy behavior. Did you not read the guy was still upset years later. bullying is bullying and there is no excuse. it was also clear this action was intiated by romney. So apology is fine, I would never have done that to someone.

    May 10, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  20. ST

    Rudy NYC

    What a sad and weak issue to bring up in a presidential campaign. It probably came out of the Rove think tank.

    Why is it that conservatives always have to qualify an apology with an "if"? It's almost like if no one found the issue offensive, then it was okay. If you didn't find the issue offensive then, "I'm not apologizing to you." When you issue an apology, it is supposed to come from the heart. A heart felt apology doesn't contain an "if" at all
    ------
    I fully agree with you Rudy. No one who found himself guilty should ever use the word "if" when apologising. An apology is done when a person realises he has done a mistake and needs to be forgiven. When he uses "if", doesn't indicate that he has realised his mistake.

    May 10, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Steven

    Bullys are cowards on the inside, dealing with their own fears and insecurities by hurting others. I don't want someone like that leading this country.

    May 10, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. Romer

    More offensive comments are said than this on the ticker every day by adults. As far as cutting someones hair and verbally hazing each other unless you are living in total isolation thats what boys do and unfortunately it happens. Its not right but that is why adult supervision and direction is usually in place.

    May 10, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Bob

    Carlos

    Who didn't do something silly during adolescence? Bringing this up as relevant now is just ridiculous.
    --------------------------------------–

    It certainly serves to demonstrate his low moral character. Quite revealing. Of course he doesn't remember it.... but then, he's a serial liar.

    May 10, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. Newmoon2

    I'm sure we all did things in our youth that we regret as adults. But saying you don't remember something as brutal as physically holding down and shearing another human being? He's lying or his true nature is showing. Is he really so callous that something that cruel never registered in his mind as significant? Shame on you, Mitt.

    May 10, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. bcm

    Carlos, this is just as relevant as what Obama's relative game him to age when he was six years old!

    May 10, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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