Mitt Romney (second from the left) in Pep Club at Cranbrook School (via @LOLGOP)
On the day after Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to endorse gay marriage, Mitt Romney is defending himself against charges that he bullied gay classmates as a high school student.
“The people involved didn’t come out of the closet until years later,” Romney told a Fox News radio show. “I had no idea that this person might have been gay.”
“I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school and some may have gone too far. And for that I apologize,” he added.
The apology is in reference to a Washington Post article by Jason Horowitz, which reports that an 18 year old Romney refused to tolerate his gay classmate Jon Lauber walking around the ritzy Cranbrook School with long, bleached-blonde hair.
“That’s wrong. Just look at him!” Romney exclaimed. According to several sources including Romney’s friend Matthew Friedemann, things then took a dark turn:
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.
According to the article, Romney also taunted a closeted gay classmate with calls of “atta girl!” in a separate incident.
The story hit at the worst possible time for Romney; as President Obama is lauded by gay rights groups for standing up for the freedom to marry, Romney — who supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — is essentially being painted as a high school movie villain.
The controversy isn’t all negative for Romney; at the very least, his wife Ann’s claim that “there’s a wild and crazy man” inside of Mitt seems far more credible now.