Mitt Romney Issues Apology for Prep School Bullying as Campaign Reacts

Mitt Romney Outside Campaign Bus - H 2012

Mitt Romney Outside Campaign Bus - H 2012

A story in the Washington Post recalling the presumptive GOP nominee's teenage antics has caused a day of media crisis.

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has spent all of Thursday fielding reactions to the Washington Post story published Thursday that details the candidate's time as student at the prestigious Cranbrook School in Michigan. The story began with an incident in which a 17-year old Romney led a gang that pinned down a student named John Lauber, whom they presumed was gay, while he cut his angular, bleach-blond hair..

The incident was recalled to the Post by a number of the candidate's prep school friends -- a few of whom said they felt uncomfortable during and after the incident. Romney addressed the accusations in a number of interviews, including one this afternoon on Fox News host Brian Kilmeade's radio show.

"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 said. "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.”

But reports suggest the campaign is working to mitigate the damage from the Post story.

Stu White, who was described in the Post's report as being bothered by the Lauber incident, told ABC News that while he was not actually present for the haircut and was unaware of it until contacted by the newspaper, he has been contacted by Romney's older brother Scott in hopes that he'll vouch for Romney's character and refute the story. He said he was unsure if he'd do so -- "it's been a long time since we've been pals," he said -- and that some of his other classmates have been contacted, as well.

ABC also aired the thoughts of another former classmate, who refused to be identified, and said that  many had very negative memories of Romney. He called Romney's behavior "like Lord of the Flies" -- and said that his claim to not remembering the haircut incident seemed implaussible:  "It makes these fellows who have owned up to it] very remorseful," the classmate said. "For [Romney] not to remember it? It doesn’t ring true.  How could the fellow with the scissors forget it?" 

Romney has made a few appearances on various Fox Network shows Thursday -- he also appeared with Fox Business News' Neil Cavuto -- but his campaign has not offered access to reporters at campaign events.

Fox News Radio commentator Todd Starnes sent out a tweet from a Romney event in Omaha, reporting that there has been an official effort to avoid questioning.

"Secret Service told not to let press on rope line at Romney Omaha event - per Fox. Not cool, Governor," he wrote.