Former Romney classmate Philip Maxwell to CBS News, today:
Phillip Maxwell, an attorney in Michigan, confirmed to CBS News that the incident with John Lauber is accurately described in The Washington Post piece. Maxwell was one of the Post’s four on-the-record sources. A fifth asked not to be named. Maxwell says the only thing not accurate is that the Post reporter said the incident occurred in a dorm room, but it happened in a common room.
“Mitt was a prankster, there’s no doubt about it. This thing with Lauber wasn’t a prank. This was, well, as a lawyer, it was an assault. It was an assault and a battery. And I’m sure that John Lauber carried it with him for the rest of his life,” Maxwell told CBS News.
The Post’s article details Romney’s teen-age years spent at Cranbrook, a prestigious prep school in Michigan, and focuses on the many pranks played by the future presidential contender. Several were harmless but others are remembered as cruel, insensitive or frightening to the victims.
Maxwell, who is not a Republican and wasn’t planning to vote for Romney, says “this isn’t a politically motivated thing for me. I got asked questions by [Post reporter] Jason Horowitz and I responded honestly to him. I didn’t decide to bring this thing up. But I think it probably is relevant.”
“I’ve carried this story with me a long time. It was very disturbing. I think that view is shared by everyone involved in it,” Maxwell says. “It just was a black mark on my character that I didn’t stop it.”
This isn’t the first time Philip Maxwell has spoken to reporters about young Mitt Romney. However, this does appear to be the first time he’s mentioned a “very disturbing” story he’s “carried with me a long time.”
Maxwell, describing young Mitt Romney, to the New Republic, four years ago:
“On weekends, those guys had a set of chores, and there wasn’t a whole lot of extra time,” recalls Phillip Maxwell, who first got to know Mitt when they were in the fourth grade together. “Their father was a real taskmaster — very fair, but he instilled real discipline.”
Maxwell is quoted again in that book, describing Romney:
“He wasn’t an athlete, which was tough on him, because other members of his family were,” says Philip Maxwell. “He just wasn’t coordinated in that way.” Other classmates remember Mitt as young for his age emotionally, at least by Cranbrook standards, more popular than admired, a “happy-go-lucky guy” known less for his achievements than his pranks — like the time he and some friends borrowed a state trooper’s uniform from his father’s security detail and pulled over students from the neighboring girls’ school.
The fact that Maxwell didn’t mention the alleged bullying incident in previous interviews about Romney’s high-school years doesn’t necessarily mean it is untrue or exaggerated. But it is interesting that only when Romney is the Republican nominee do his classmates remember and tell reporters about this incident.
However, this old book does give Romney opponents a new scandal to hype: Young Mitt impersonated a police officer!