I’ve seen other publications refer to these incidents from Romney’s childhood years as ‘pranks’. I was in high school. I pulled pranks. These alleged incidents don’t strike me as remotely things I’d describe as pranks or hijinks. As reported, they come off as vicious and disturbing, even the sort of stuff that was seen as pretty unaccepted in a very, very different era.
And more is coming out. The Romney campaign has apparently already spoken to a number of ex-classmates asking them to step forward and speak on Mitt’s behalf. And ABC has spoken to a number of them. Here’s one graph from a piece just published by ABC.
One former classmate and old friend of Romney’s - who refused to be identified by name - said there are “a lot of guys” who went to Cranbrook who have “really negative memories” of Romney’s behavior in the dorms, behavior this classmate describes as “evil” and “like Lord of the Flies.”
The classmate believes Romney is lying when he claims to not remember [the hair-cutting incident].
“It makes these fellows [who have owned up to it] very remorseful. For [Romney] not to remember it? It doesn’t ring true. How could the fellow with the scissors forget it?” the former classmate said.
High school for a 65-year-old is a long time ago. I’m 43 and it seems like a long time ago. I was a different person in many ways. What strikes me most about this story is Romney’s intense equivocation. First he didn’t remember the incidents. Then he apologized to anyone who was offended but without saying he remembered anything specific. Then he said that he definitely didn’t know or think the kid they attacked was gay, even though he apparently didn’t remember the attack.
None of that really adds up. And I think this is long enough ago that if Romney just came clean and said it was almost 50 years ago and he regrets it that would be sufficient for most people.
But is Mitt Romney a bully? These sound like traits you wouldn’t shake off that quickly. It certainly doesn’t mesh with the image we see now. Romney does have this penchant for out of the blue cutting remarks. But that’s something different.
Romney’s known many people over the years. If you’ve met Romney or known him over the years, do you have experiences with him that fit or don’t fit with the picture painted of him here? Let me know. Confidentiality guaranteed.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.