Mitt Romney, Prep-School Bully?
Mitt Romney says he doesn't remember anything about the depiction of him as a prep-school bully told in today's Washington Post.
Numerous witnesses say they were scarred by one incident in particular, when Romney led a posse of boarding school pranksters to track down fellow student John Lauber and then forcibly cut his hair.
Lauber, who later came out as gay, is described by the Post as "a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney," who "was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality." Romney had for some reason become especially bothered by Lauber's latest haircut — a bleached-blond style with hair draped over one eye.
The group of Cranbrook School students went 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," writes Jason Horowitz for the Post.
Lauber, who died in 2004, wasn't the only subject of taunts the Post found: "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!'"
Romney went on a radio show first thing this morning to answer the story, insisting he doesn't remember the hair-cutting incident and had no idea the other students were gay. And since they were closeted, he says, it's evidence his "pranks" weren't motivated by any antigay bias.
“I don’t remember that incident, and I’ll tell you I certainly don’t believe that I — I can’t speak for other people of course — thought the fellow was homosexual," Romney told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on his radio show. "That was the furthest thing from my mind back in the 1960s, so that was not the case. But as to pranks that were played back then, I don’t remember them all, but again, high school days, if I did stupid things, why I’m afraid I got to say sorry for it.”
The story points out that Romney was the subject of teasing for very different reasons. His father ran American Motors, and fellow Cranbrook boys teased him because it was "at the bottom rung of the big auto hierarchy, below General Motors, Ford and Chrysler."
Romney has not offered a position on the proposed Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect students from antigay bullying by creating a federal prohibition against it in all public elementary and secondary schools. Obama has fully supported SNDA, and he has also taped an It Gets Better video, and the White House hosted an antibullying conference to raise awareness of the problems.