When Mitt Romney was a student at the prestigious Cranbrook School in Michigan in the mid-1960s, he was the son of the state’s governor and a big man on campus.
A soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney named John Lauber had bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye and was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality.
Romney was among his chief tormentors, according to a new expose published Thursday (10 May) in the Washington Post.
Romney’s classmate, Matthew Friedemann, recalls him saying: ‘He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!’
A few days later, Friedman watched as Romney marched over to his room followed by a posse to find Lauber. Romney tackled him, pinned him to the ground and clipped his hair with a pair of scissors as the tearful boy screamed for help.
The Post interviewed five former students about the incident.
‘It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,’ said one of them, Thomas Buford, now a retired prosecutor.
Buford was the school’s wrestling champion and said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber who he says was ‘terrified.’
‘What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do,’ Buford says.
Romney led his cheering classmates back to his dorm room and was never disciplined for the attack.
Lauber, who later came out as gay to family and friends, died in 2004 of liver cancer. He kept his hair long and dyed blond for the rest of his life.
In a radio interview Thursday morning, Romney said he didn’t remember the incident but apologized for pranks he helped orchestrate that he said ‘might have gone too far.’
Although Romney didn’t remember the incident, Lauber never forgot it according to Romney classmate David Seed who ran into Lauber at a bar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport in the mid-1990s.
Seed apologized for not doing more to help and said Lauber said to him: ‘It was horrible. … It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.’
The Post article also includes this incident: In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, ‘Atta girl!’
According to a R0mney campaign spokesman, the candidate doesn’t remember this incident either.