May 10th, 2012
04:55 PM ET
10 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. dreucalypt

    It's very unfortunate for Romney that these two incidents of anti-gay hazing came up on the day after President Obama came out for marriage equality. The contrast between the two of them couldn't be sharper.

    May 10, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    well I guess if one can go back to Obama being made to eat dog meat at age 6, then ANYTHING in one's past is fair game, huh? I am not a fan of Romney at all but this is a trite story even for a progressive to try to spread.

    May 10, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  3. Steve, New York City

    A typical rich, spoiled boarding school kid. He cannot relate to anyone who is different and/or below his socioeconomic station. People like him are most comfortable in their snooty, conformist, narrow little world.

    May 10, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. ncmyk

    WHO CARES what a possible future president did as a child??? oh – i know – ROMNEY DOES when he makes a issue out of obama eating dog meat in a third-world country as a child!!!

    May 10, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. anotherGDlefty

    It seems like you would remember holding someone down and forcibly cutting off the guys ,matter how long ago it happened.
    Unless, I guess, you do so much changing in your positions that suddenly you can't "remember" everything in you other personas, even the truly rotten things.

    You heard Mitty say it righties, if you want to focus on things that happened that far in the past, be his guest.
    Tell me one more time about 6 year old Barack being served dog in Indonesia and how that somehow makes him a moooslim...even though Muslims consider dogs as filty animals.
    Twist, twist, twist.

    Obama 2012
    Warren 2016

    May 10, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Cheryl

    If I had held someone down while they were crying and screaming, and cut their hair off, I'd remember it. Of course I'd never humiliate someone like that but if I did it wouldn't be so meaningless to me that I couldn't recall it. Mitt Romney didn't have the capacity to see beyond himself in high school and he doesn't now. People say too much is made of the dog on top of the car episode but it is part of a pattern showing a disturbing lack of compassion. And these high school stories fit into that pattern.

    May 10, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. CJ

    While I would never vote for Romney, I think it's shameful that the media is forcing him to apologize for jokes made over half a century ago.

    May 10, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. Lionel

    Bully, Liar, Swiss bank account. Does not get my vote. Ro(money) does look like a rich spoiled brat.

    Latinos for Obama 2012

    May 10, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. D from LA

    Are we really suprised? He's not better as an adult either.

    May 10, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. MTATL67

    What an insincere apology. My concern is the Republican party’s agenda of in-equality and discrimination against Americans.

    May 10, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Dennis1020

    I am a Democrat and President Obama supporter, but bringing up what someone did in high school 40+ years ago is newsworthy?!? Uh, how 'bout we focus the discussion on the issues and challenges of the present and raise the level of the discourse? Simply stunning.

    May 10, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Wynter

    Wow! Another telling moment from Romney's past showing what he is really like. He was a bully in prep school with no remorse for attacking a younger student over, of all things, his hair style? I wouldn't think too overly about the incident if he fessed up and admitted he was wrong to do it. But to say he "doesn't recollect" the incident now is so blatantly false it makes every other disclaimer of his seem less so.
    Romney is running for President. He better start acting presidential and stop hiding his past actions behind "I have no recollection of that". He committed a crime back then. Now is the time to say more than "oops."

    May 10, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. anagram_kid

    Carlos wrote – Who didn't do something silly during adolescence?
    nteresting that you refer to assault as ‘silly’.

    May 10, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. NameThom

    First of all he don't have spirit for any thing on his life I ashure you ones he get white house he starts shows you what is his real behavior .

    May 10, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. Tim Smith

    I don't remember? Wow. Republicans have found a winner!

    May 10, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. EDDIE

    Mitt also rembers that funny time when he threw scones at the poorer kid's in his town. I thought everybody had at one time or another shoved another kid down and shave his head. I must have forgotten about when I did that. Mittrens give it up.

    May 10, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. Cindy

    Wow, a hate crime is a hate crime. It shows his mentality.
    I cannot believe anyone with half a heart or brain would vote for someone like this. High schoolers know better and to do something so discusting shows you what type of person he really is.

    May 10, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  18. Mike

    The secrects are coming out of the closet........ Mitt and his friends pick out the one guy that did not look like him and set out to humiliate him. This is the same guy who put his sick family dog on the roof for 10 hours. Mitt has no soul and no back bone!

    May 10, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. Wynter

    Romney was a bully back in prep school. More than just a bully he apparently lead the pack in this case. Based on his attacks during the GOP Primary I guess he hasn't changed much. It's time we gave Bully Romney his "wake up call". America doesn't like Bullies and Gay Bashers. Grow up Mr. Romney and learn from your mistakes. Because being president doesn't mean you can run around the quad enforcing hair style rules at your leisure.

    May 10, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  20. curious

    Rmoney is not presidential.

    May 10, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Publius Novus

    "Anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn't have a mean-spirited bone in his body." Really? I've been listening to Mr. Romney in debates and public speeches for about six or seven months now. From what I've heard, I morally certain he has several dozen mean-spirited bones in his body.

    May 10, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. George

    What I find very disturbing about this is how his wife thinks of these incidents as 'pranks'. Apparently she has not grown up much since high school.

    May 10, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Bob

    Eating dog is normal in some asian countries and not not necassarily a bad thing, does not compare to being a bully, and yes this is an issue. I dont how i can vote for this guy

    May 10, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. Lolo

    I do not care about this, but it does raise questions about Romney as a person. I agrere how can he not remember doing this. He remembers it and is lying again t get out of it. Just like the statement Ann said about her husband, he is still that boy from school that I fell in love with. Also their little mother's day ad does nothing to change peoples mind, because the truth is she never had to work and struggle a day in her life as well as her spoiled sons. Everything they have was given to them on a silver platter. They really think that people are too stupid to see through their little richie rich games.

    May 10, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. Stephen in VA

    "Who didn't do something silly in adolescence?" – Oh, I sure did. I participated in all sorts of hijinks. But assault? Holding somebody down and shaving his head? If you really think that's normal adolescent behavior, you really need to reexamine your views on "normal." And what's that about "People say 'hey, atta girl'"? I was raised about the same time as Romney, and I can't imagine anybody saying that to a boy except to humiliate him.

    May 10, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
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