Mitt Romney once held down a high school classmate and cut off his hair, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The incident took place in 1965. According to the Post, five fellow students recounted independent versions of the 47-year-old story.
Romney, in his senior year at the time, had reportedly just returned from spring break to the elite Cranbook School where junior John Lauber was considered an outcast — and widely presumed to be gay.
Lauber had bleached-blond hair that hung over one eye, and Romney, the son of then-Michigan Gov. George Romney, apparently wasn’t having it.
“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” Romney said, according to a friend’s recollection. Joined by at least one friend, Romney found Lauber, pinned him down and cut his hair off with a pair of scissors.
The five sources who recounted the story, one of whom asked not be named, identify mostly with the Democratic Party, wrote Post reporter Jason Horowitz.
Those sources called the move “vicious” and “stupid.”
Lauber, the Post reported, eventually came out to his family as gay in later years and characterized the incident as “horrible” to one of the witnesses. He died in 2004.
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Romney “doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body” and that he “has no memory of participating in these incidents.”
The rest of the story paints Romney as a prankster who matured through his relationship with his future wife, Ann. “Mitt began to change as a person when he met Ann Davies. He gradually became a more serious person,” recounted classmate Jim Bailey.
The timing of the report, if the incident is construed as being anti-gay, could pose a strong challenge for the Romney campaign given the Obama administrations accomplishment — accidental or otherwise — of turning the media’s attention away from the economy and toward gay marriage throughout the past week.
That narrative culminated in President Obama telling ABC News on Wednesday that he has finally “evolved” into personally supporting gay marriage.
UPDATE 12 p.m. EDT: Romney apologizes, ‘not going to be too concerned’ about WaPo story