The Washington Post is reporting on the prep school antics of Mitt Romney back in 1965.
Apparently, Mitt had some issues with people he identified as being “different.” In particular, a younger boy named John Lauber, who returned to school after spring break with bleach blond hair:
“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.
A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.
The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be named. The men have differing political affiliations, although they mostly lean Democratic. Buford volunteered for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. Seed, a registered independent, has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan. All of them said that politics in no way colored their recollections.
“It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said. “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”
His campaign spokeswoman said the former Massachusetts governor has no recollection of the incident.
“Anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body,” Andrea Saul said in a statement. “The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents.”
But Lauber was not the only target for the gay-bashing Mitt Romney.
In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, “Atta girl!” In the culture of that time and place, that was not entirely out of the norm. Hummel recalled some teachers using similar language.
Saul, Romney’s campaign spokeswoman, said the candidate has no recollection of the incident.
UPDATE: Without admitting to anything specific, Mitt Romney laughingly told FOX radio host Brian Kilmeade Thursday:
“Back in high school I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by that I apologize. If I did stupid things, I’m afraid I’ve got to say sorry for it. I’m quite a different guy now.”
He admitted “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks in high school and some of them might have gone too far, and I apologize.”