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In May 2012, while Mitt Romney was running as the U.S. Presidential Candidate for the Republican Party, a story appeared in the press regarding an incident in which he was allegedly involved at the private preparatory Cranbrook School when he was a teenager.[1][2]

The story first appeared on the front page of the Washington Post and described how Romney, in the spring of 1965 while a senior at Cranbrook, allegedly bullied John Lauber, a new student in his junior year who came to school with “bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye”. A former friend stated that Romney said: “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!”[3] According to the story Romney, "brandishing a pair of scissors, led other boys on a hunt" and teased Lauber.[1] Romney along with several other students allegedly tackled Lauber, pinning him down as he cried and screamed for help, while Romney cut his hair with a pair of scissors. [4]

Romney responded to the story by saying he did not remember the incident and on May 11 he apologized generally for his high school pranks: "I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far".[5]

Many media reporters noted how the news item could affect the 2012 United States presidential election.[6] Many media outlets are also calling the account an act of bullying.[7] The story prompted attention to the issues of school bullying, and anti-gay legislation.[8][9][10][11] Contents

   1 Implications for 2012 presidential election
   2 Witnesses
       2.1 Victim
   3 Romney response
   4 Criticism of original reports
   5 References

Implications for 2012 presidential election

The "Cranbrook account" started a new debate in the 2012 United States presidential election regarding Romney, "Was this a sole episode of youthful poor judgment by Mr. Romney or a larger statement about his character?"[1] According to the New York Times the Romney campaign has been attempting for months to turn "away from questions about the candidate’s character and focus on his proposals to improve the economy."[1] The Week in summarizing the news and opinion reports, noted that Lauber was presumptively gay, although Romney stated Lauber's sexual orientation "was the furthest thing from my mind back in the 1960s."[6] The New York Times noted that the story, in light of Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage and North Carolina's vote against it, illustrates how society's attitudes have shifted and that "bullying was decades away from being a subject for assemblies and school psychologists."[1] The New Yorker's Ann Davidson noted how Lauber told one of his attackers he felt frightened and thought of the Romney-led incident often, Davidson wondered if Romney could relate to anyone else being treated as Lauber had been.[12]

Frank Rich noted in New York that Romney's denial of knowledge of the incident is "fair game" for the election but is also dependent on other incidents surfacing as "much of Romney's past remains a mystery" to him.[13] USA Today noted that "hijinks" fifty years ago is seen as bullying today.[14] The BostonHerald presented the actions, and Romney's responses as part of Romney's LGBT rights stances on same sex marriage, and LGBT adoption.[15] As part of their reporting on the incident MSNBC noted that millions of school children of all backgrounds continue to be bullied in the same way as fifty years ago, "something that has the attention of the Obama administration and the White House in terms of something that needs to be addressed."[16] Witnesses

The article was researched by Washington Post reporter Jason Horowitz and Julie Tate. Five classmates were reportedly interviewed as well as Lauber's sisters. The five made corroborating statements and four of them permitted their names to be used.

Philip Maxwell

   Considered the act to be assault and battery, describing himself and his friends as a “pack of dogs.” [17] He also stated "It was vicious."[4]

Matthew Friedemann

   “He was just easy pickins,” [4]

Thomas Buford

   “It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.” [18]

David Seed

   Recalled meeting Lauber thirty years later in O'Hare airport. According to Seed, Lauber recalled the incident as being "horrible" and “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.” [4]


The original reporting noted John Lauber was "perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality."[8]

He died in 2004, prior to the story; however, the Washington Post interviewed his surviving sisters. His sister Betsy Lauber released a statement on behalf of the family to ABC News, saying, "the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family." One of his other sisters, Christine Lauber, stated “Even if it did happen, John probably wouldn’t have said anything." [19]

Lauber himself described in later years that "the incident was 'horrible' and something that had stayed with him throughout his life."[20][16] Romney response

Romney's campaign provided a statement that was published in the Washington Post that read: “The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents.” Romney, on May 10, 2012, offered a blanket apology for anything that might have slipped his mind. According to an interview with Brian Kilmeade on Fox Radio:

   Back in high school, you know, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously, I apologize for that… You know, I don’t, I don’t remember that particular incident [laughs]… I participated in a lot of high jinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize.[21][22]

In the interview Romney further stated, I certainly don't believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual.[23] Romney noted "The people involved didn't come out of the closet until years later."[11] Criticism of original reports

The Washington Post originally reported that Stu White, one of Romney's friends, had “long been bothered” by the haircutting incident. The Washington Post then corrected its article by saying he had been bothered "since hearing about it several weeks ago, before being contacted by The Washington Post." without initially noting the correction.[24]

Subsequent to the articles release in the digital version on May 10th 2012 the print version the following day contained a minor change. The Washington Post, issued a statement that clarified a point in the article. They did not call this a correction, rather they termed it an "editors note:"

   "An earlier version of this story reported that White “has long been bothered” by the Lauber incident. White later clarified in a subsequent interview that he has been disturbed by the incident since he learned of it several weeks ago from a former classmate, before being contacted by The Washington Post."[25]

This in turn led to more details of the vetting process employed by the Washington Post. Jason Horowitz, among others, reportedly worked 3 weeks on the article and it was reviewed by David Maraniss.[26] References

   ^ a b c d e Bullying Story Spurs Apology From Romney, Ashley Parker and Jodi Kantor, New York Times, May 10, 2012, [1]
   ^ First Thoughts: An off-script week, MSNBC First Read, Chuck Todd, Domenico Montanaro, Natalie Cucchiara, and Brooke Brower. [2]
   ^ Mitt Romney's prep school classmates recall pranks but also troubling incidents, Washinton Post, by Jason Horowitz, May 10, 2012
   ^ a b c d Horowitz, Jason (1965-06-12). "Classmates recall Romney's pranks — and darker incidents | Politics | The Seattle Times". Retrieved 2012-05-12.
   ^ “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize.”
   ^ a b Mitt Romney's 'cruel and nasty' high school bullying: 5 ways it hurts him - The story of one mean-spirited act from 50 years ago is causing Team Romney a huge headache. A look at why it could get even worse, May 11, 2012, The Week,[3]
   ^ Why Romney’s High School Prank Matters, Bruce Reyes-Chow , May 15, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle. [4]
   ^ a b Mitt Romney's 'hijinks' seen as bullying today, May 16, 2012, Leanne Italie, Associated Press. [5]
   ^ May 10, 2012, Mitt Romney, Bully, Amy Davidson, The New Yorker, [6]
   ^ 11 May 2012, Mitt Romney apologises after 'gay bully' school report: Presumptive US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has apologised for school "pranks" after a report he bullied a classmate thought to be gay. BBC News. [7]
   ^ a b Romney Apologizes For Bullying In Prep School, Says He Didn't Know Victim Was Gay, Sam Stein, Huffington Post, May 10, 2012. [8]
   ^ May 10, 2012, Mitt Romney, Bully, Amy Davidson, The New Yorker, [9]
   ^ Frank Rich on the National Circus: Bully Romney and the Gay Vote, Frank Rich, New York, May 16, 2012. [10]
   ^ Mitt Romney's 'hijinks' seen as bullying today, May 11, 2012, USA Today/Associate Press, Leanne Italie . [11]
   ^ Romney counters notion he bullied gay classmates: Apologizes for ‘hijinks and pranks during high school’, Associated Press, May 10, 2012. [12]
   ^ a b Was Mitt Romney a bully growing up?, Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC, (with The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart) [13]
   ^ "Former Romney Classmate Describes ‘Bullying Supreme’ – A ‘Pack of Dogs’ Who Targeted ‘Different’ Boy - ABC News". Retrieved 2012-05-11.
   ^ Cohen, Richard (2011-03-17). "Romney’s too-cute apology - PostPartisan". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-05-11.
   ^ Jaffe, Matthew (May 10, 2012). "Sister of Alleged Romney Target Has ‘No Knowledge’ of Any Bullying Incident". ABC News.
   ^ How Bad Was Mitt Romney’s Prep School Bullying?: Did this kind of thing happen all the time, or should he have known better? Or both? Emily Bazelon, Slate, May 10, 2012. [14]
   ^ Amy Davidson. Mitt Romney bully. The New Yorker. May 10, 2012.
   ^ Romney counters notion bullied gay classmates. Fox News / AP, May 10, 2012.
   ^ "'I didn’t believe he was homosexual': Mitt Romney apologizes after gay bullying report". National Post. May 10, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
   ^ Washington Post Romney Hit Piece Implodes by Ben Shapiro, May 11, 2011
   ^ Washington Post change to Romney story wasn't a correction, Poynter, by Andrew Beaujon, May 11, 2012
   ^ Mitt Romney bully story holds up to scrutiny, by Washington Post ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, published in Washington Post, May 11, 2012
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