May 10th, 2012
04:55 PM ET
8 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. Mgc tampa

    chasing a kid, holding him down and cutting his hair is not a childish prank. The comment he made about this kid prior to that, "look at him" "he can't do that" speaks to something bigger. A sense that he has the right to tell others how to wear their hair. It explains his perspective today. Having said all that, it was a horrible bullying act that the kid still had nightmares about as an adult. You cannot minimize someone elses pain.

    May 10, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. Is Mitt a Git?

    That is considered assault. He was also cruel to Seamus, is beautiful Irish Setter, who ran away after that long trip on top of the car and had the runs. Not so sure I believe that he doesn't have a mean-spirited bone in his body. It takes a certain calloursness to willfully take over companies that put people out of work–his indifference in his work at Bain captial does not support this claim.

    May 10, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. demmie

    you're kidding, right? High School behavior is now part of presidential politics? Heck, at least someone actually REMEMBERS Romney in his youth. . .

    May 10, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. The REAL Truth...

    @Dennis1020 – "Uh, how 'bout we focus the discussion on the issues and challenges of the present and raise the level of the discourse?"
    AGREED 1000%+ – now if only the other side could do the same, we'd be on to something. The problem is that "news" such as the above article comes out because Mitten's has NO issues or policies that he stands for. Which is right up there with the Grand Obstructionist Party. The party of no – no viable candidate, no platform, no compromise, no values and no chance in Nov.

    May 10, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Maxx

    "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."

    I guess when assaulting someone and cuttng their hair against their will you are not intending any harm – only in Romney's world. So dishonest.

    May 10, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. mageen

    I know where this guy lived as a kid. Not surprised at all at his high school behavior. Sad to see that it has actually carried over into the rest of his life. Heard an audio of his "apology" on another site. No way!!!! No vote. And PS, he will never learn.

    May 10, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. R.I.P. G.O.P.

    How appropriate.....bullies tend to grow up to be adult bullies. This guy is beyond scary.

    May 10, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. joe

    All of us have youthful indiscretions we would like to forget. But I can painfully remember and visualize the times I didn't treat others the way i would want to be treated. And I never did anything that would be remotely considered criminal assault. For Romney to conveniently forget these events shows a bright light into his soul. Boys will be boys doesn't cut it in my book.

    May 10, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. soulcatcher

    Romney reminds me of the preppy fraternity in Animal House. Thank you sir may I have another!

    May 10, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Stupid things people come up with. He was a kid.

    May 10, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. JuanVonDinklus

    A prank is something that is funny, not what Romney did. Does it matter now – not as much as his half hearted attempt at an apology. After all, what kind of example does this set for children who are being bullied? Doesn't sound like the qualities of a good leader to me.

    May 10, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  12. Toonces

    I don't agree with Mitten's policies... but come on this is a non-issue. Kids are kids and do stupid things. People make mistakes and learn from them.

    May 10, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. Eyes Wide Open

    This is not surprising. America wake up!! High school bully, cruelty to anmials (Seamus), "I am not worried about the poor", Corporate pirate - This is not a fundamentally sound man.

    May 10, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. rs

    I think it is a reach, and very hard to ascribe to someone of Mr. Romney's age something(s) that happened 50 years ago. That stuff (if true) may not be considered tolerable or appropriate today, and I doubt any of us would like that level of scrutiny- especially as indicators of how we now operate. That was a very different time, and we (as American) were very different people.

    May 10, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. Nick A

    Honestly I'm a democratic leaning independant whose voting for Obama, but is this really an issue?? What the guy did in high school fifty years ago has nothing to do with how he will govern.

    May 10, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. elizabeth

    Clearly BS that he can't remember that incident. Of course he does and he may cringe inside, but in my experience anyone this assualtive in high school grew up with a sense of extreme entitlement. I pulled a few pranks in highschool, but nothing remotely like this.....and they were never cruel. His victim never forgot .
    This guy should not be the president of the united States!

    May 10, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. Patriot Awesome

    I'm not a Romney fan by any means, but this story is total BS. Unless you raped or murdered someone, high school stupidity shouldn't be an issue.

    May 10, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. DNC-CNN

    I want to publicly apologize for pulling Sissy Bean's hair in pre-school. I will be holding a press conference at 5 pm and expect all of the national media to be there for this earth stopping news.

    May 10, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. flickerman

    Character revealed. Let's ignore it. He's a changed man. He's on his 300th change. ATTA ......

    May 10, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. cashmeremafia

    Cutting off someone's hair goes beyond a "prank" – this is more like bullying, intimidation, and assault!! You don't forget something like that, regardless if you are the victim or perpetrator. However, what's more important is he learns the errors of his ways

    May 10, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  21. PJ/TX

    Why do Republicans always say "If there's anything I said that ws offensive to someone I certainly am sorry
    about that..........", in one version or another, they are always "sorry" after the fact. They know full well
    they are hurting someone, and are never sorry because that was their intention.
    If it was yesterday, or 50 years ago, it is insulting, and a person with character would have said "I do remember-
    and I am sorry". If he can't remember something like this, he has proven he is heartless and uncaring.
    Wow, what a guy.

    May 10, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. Rajiv Shaw

    Teasing? An euphemism for BULLYING. That is a character trait that does not go away. Was he also teasing the corporations he shut down when he ran Bain Corporation?

    May 10, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. Al

    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!!!
    Romney had to get a federal bailout when he drove Bain Capital to the verge of bankruptcy. He made a fortune bankrupting companies, laying off American workers and destroying communities. He enjoys firing people. He is a tax dodger with Cyaman Island and Swiss bank accounts. He is soulless flip flopper with no convictions. He strapped his family dog to the roof of his care of a 12 hour road trip. etc. These aren't what liberals or democrats have said but his fellow republicans.Romney was successful in the hedge fund market"Producing nothing, dealing with no real goods, creating no jobs, gutting companies to sell on a quick turn-around. You, really want that kind of "experience" in the WH? Not me.

    May 10, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. okiedokie

    Ah, let the past lay if it's that far back. What's the statute of limitations? 1st grade? Romney has enough gaffes and
    stuff that will make me consider the opposition.

    May 10, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  25. chris

    Who here is surprised that a handsome guy who grew up rich was a bully? Who here is surprised that his idea of good time was injuring somebody coming to terms with their sexuality, difficult enough even in the heterosexual case.

    Does his apologizing for this constitute another flip-flop, like pro/con abortion, pro/con Romneycare, con/pro killing Bin Laden, pro/con the far right ... ?

    May 10, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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