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Romney apologizes for 'hijinks and pranks' after report that he bullied student during high school

BY KASIE HUNT, ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney apologized Thursday for "stupid" high school pranks that may have gone too far and moved quickly to stamp out any notion that he bullied schoolmates because they were gay. His swift response reflected the Republican presidential candidate's recognition that his record on gay rights is under heightened scrutiny following President Barack Obama's embrace of gay marriage.

One day after gay rights moved to the center of the presidential race with Obama's announcement on same-sex marriage, a Washington Post report about Romney's high school escapades nearly 50 years ago added a personal dimension to Democrats' claim that he's out of step on the sensitive topic.

The newspaper reported that in one case, Romney and several schoolmates held down classmate John Lauber and cut off his bleached blond hair after seeking him out in his dorm room at their boarding school in the wealthy Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The Post said Lauber was "perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality" and that he screamed for help as Romney held him down. The paper recounted another incident in which Romney shouted "atta girl" to a different student at the all-boys' school who, years later, came out as gay.

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