President Barack Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee pounced Thursday on a Washington Post report describing a "vicious" attack Mitt Romney carried out in 1965 on a fellow prep schooler who years later came out as gay.
The Post, citing five people who attended the elite Cranbrook School in Michigan with Romney, said he had led a "posse" of fellow students against another student named John Lauber, who the newspaper said "was perpetually teased for his noncomformity and presumed homosexuality." The group reportedly pinned Lauber down while Romney forcibly cut his hair.
"It was a hack job," Phillip Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred and is now a lawyer, told the Post. "It was vicious."
The timing of the piece, which says Lauber "came out as gay to his family and close friends" years later, could scarcely have been better for Democrats, coming one day after Obama threw his support behind gay marriage. Obama and his top aides have repeatedly slammed Romney over his opposition to same-sex marriage and painted him as a force for discrimination.
The DNC quickly blasted out an email with the Washington Post article under the subject line "It was vicious" and, in case anyone missed the point, a one sentence introduction: "Key Point: "It was vicious."
DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse kept up the onslaught on Twitter, saying "The nominee of @GOP for president led a 'posse' in a 'vicious' assault on a kid for the way he looked. @MittRomney was an 18yr old adult."
Romney himself apologized in a radio interview on Thursday.
"Back in high school, I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by that, obviously I apologize," he said in an interview on the "Kilmeade and Friends" talk show on Fox News radio. That the student might have been gay "was the furthest thing from my mind back in the 1960s." But "if I did stupid things, why I'm afraid I got to say sorry for it."
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