WASHINGTON Mitt Romney apologized Thursday to classmates he may have offended by hijinks and pranks during high school and insisted he didnt know that some were gay.
The Republican presidential candidate issued the apology during a hastily arranged radio interview after The Washington Post reported Thursday that he had held down classmate John Lauber and cut off his bleached blond hair when they were students at a prestigious boarding school in the wealthy Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
The Post suggested Lauber was bullied because he was gay.
The people involved didnt 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 report and Romneys defense come as his inconsistent record on gay-rights though iron-clad opposition to gay unions is coming under scrutiny following President Barack Obamas embrace of same-sex marriage. He defended some gay rights when he ran for governor of Massachusetts but was a leading voice against gay marriage when courts made it legal in the state.
The Post report cites five classmates of Romneys at Cranbrook School recounting details of Romneys encounter with Lauber, whose bleached blond hair fell into his face. Romney led a group of boys that tackled Lauber. Romney cut off his hair with scissors as Laubers eyes were filling with tears, according to the Post.
The paper also recounted another incident where Romney shouted atta girl at a different student who, years later, came out as gay.
Romney was asked about Lauber during the radio interview. I dont remember that incident, he said. I certainly dont believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.
Lauber is now deceased, the Post said.