OMAHA, Neb. – For the second time Thursday, Mitt Romney took to friendly airwaves to defend himself against reports of high school bullying and apologize if anything he did during his high school days hurt anyone.
In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News' Neil Cavuto this afternoon, Romney said he did not recall the specific incident described in a now-viral Washington Post story which described Romney leading a group of students in forcefully holding down and cutting a fellow student's hair, who, the story claimed, they perceived to be gay.
"First of all, I had no idea what that individual's sexual orientation might be. Going back to the 1960s, that wasn't something that we all discussed or considered. That's simply just not accurate," Romney said. "I don't recall the incident myself, but I've seen the reports. Not going to argue with that. There's no question that I did some stupid things when I was in high school and obviously if I hurt anyone by virtue of that I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it."
Early this morning, in an interview added to the candidate's public schedule at the last moment, Romney told Fox News Radio's Brian Kilmeade he was sorry for "dumb things" he did as a young man, if they hurt anyone.
The story overshadowed the Romney campaign's planned message for the second day in a row, after President Obama's statements on same-sex marriage did so Wednesday.
After his brief remarks at a campaign stop here in Nebraska, Secret Service agents, at the direction of the campaign, kept members of Romney's traveling press corps well out of range for shouted questions, ushering him inside for local news interviewers – several of whom asked about the bullying story.
This afternoon the Romney campaign released statements from two of the former Massachusetts Governor's high school classmates pushing back on the idea that Romney, who has long described himself as a prankster as a young man, was a bully.
"Mitt was a thoughtful guy with a great sense of humor who cared about his classmates,” read one statement by Richard Moon, who attended high school with Romney. “He had a good perspective on how to balance all the pressures high school students face. He would never go out and do anything mean spirited. Clownish, yes. Never mean."