"It was vicious," one friend recalled.
"He was just easy pickins," another said.
Those are the worlds of Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer, and Matthew Friedemann, a dentist, describing to the Washington Post an incident they witnessed at their prestigious private high school in Michigan in 1965.
Corroborated independently by five of Mitt Romney's classmates at Canbrook School, the article recalls the Governor George Romney's son and his friends holding down a presumably gay schoolmate and chopping off his long, bleached-blonde hair.
In the Post story, the high-school Romney's hijinks took the form of ribbing a dim-sighted teacher or posing as a police officer to scare friends out after curfew.
A spokeswoman for the Romney campaign has said the governor has no recollection of the hair-cutting incident, but Romney offered something of a catch-all apology anyways:
"I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks in high school and some of them might have gone too far, and I apologize," Romney told Kilmead and Friends on Fox News Radio Thursday morning. "I certainly don't believe I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s."
Romney's wife, Ann, has repeatedly sought to paint her husband as a humorous, relatable guy rather than the stiff campaigner often described as "wooden".
The piece could make major waves in a campaign season already sensitive to the politics surrounding gay rights and bullying. This latest revelation comes on the heels of the resignation of Richard Grenell, a political strategist for the Romney campaign who is gay and supports same-sex marriage. Conservative Christians were vocal in their disapproval of Grenell's appointment as a senior foreign policy adviser.
Romney reiterated his opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage on Tuesday, shortly before President Barack Obama announced his support Wednesday.