Mitt Romney, the Bully

As a privileged preppy, Mitt Romney enjoyed humiliating suspected gays and other vulnerable people. But his bullying didn’t stop when he grew older. Instead, he applied similar tactics to make a fortune as a corporate raider, writes Marjorie Cohn.

By Marjorie Cohn

Last week, I was invited to speak to 40 high school freshman about human rights. When we discussed the right to be free from torture, I asked the students if they could think of an example of torture. They said, “bullying.”

A major problem among teens, bullying can lead to depression, and even suicide. When most people list the qualities they want to see in their President, “bully” is not one of them.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with his wife, Ann. (Photo from

Yet evidence continues to emerge that Mitt Romney is a bully. When he was a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School, Romney orchestrated and played the primary role in forcibly pinning fellow student John Lauber to the ground and clipping the terrified Lauber’s hair.

The soft-spoken Lauber, it seemed, had returned from spring break with bleached-blond hair draped over one eye. Romney, infuriated, declared, “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!”

Lauber eyes filled with tears as he screamed for help. One of the other students in the dorm at the time, said, “It was a hack job. . . . It was vicious.”

But instead of owning up to his stupidity and expressing regret at his bullying attack on Lauber, Romney told Fox News that he didn’t remember the incident, although he apologized for his pranks that “might have gone too far.”

It’s hard to believe that Romney cannot recall an incident that others who assisted in the attack have regretted for years. Or perhaps there were so many more that he doesn’t recall this one.

Lauber wasn’t the only student Romney harassed. Gary Hummel, a gay student who had not yet come out, says Romney shouted, “Atta girl!” when Hummel spoke out in English class. Once again, Romney claims he doesn’t remember that insult.

In still another high school incident, Romney caused English teacher Carl Wonnberger, who had severe vision problems, to smack into a closed door, after which Romney laughed hysterically.

While these episodes demonstrate cruelty, one might dismiss them as the work of an immature high school prankster. But, unfortunately, Romney’s bullying didn’t end in high school. Romney is now famous for driving to Canada with the family dog caged and strapped to the roof of his car.

Moreover, Romney made a career of bullying when he was head of private equity firm Bain Capital. Bain would invest in companies, load them up with debt, and then sell them for huge profits. The companies often had to lay off workers and sometimes were forced into bankruptcy.

The Wall Street Journal found that of the 77 companies in which Bain invested while Romney headed it from 1984 to 1999, 22 percent filed for bankruptcy or went out of business. In addition, Bain hid its profits in tax havens.

William D. Cohan, a Wall Street deal-adviser for 17 years, wrote in the Washington Post: “Seemingly alone among private-equity firms,” Bain Capital under Romney’s leadership “was a master at bait-and-switching Wall Street bankers to get its hands on the companies that provided the raw material for its financial alchemy.” Cohan said Bain “did all that it could to game the system.”

For 28 years, Joe Soptic was a steelworker at Worldwide Grinding Systems. Soptic told Amy Goodman that after the company was bought out in 1993, his wife had to quit working, she didn’t have health insurance, and he couldn’t afford to buy it after his salary was reduced from $59,000 to $24,800 annually.

When his wife became ill with cancer, she went to a county hospital. When she died, he said, “I had this big bill.” Soptic was forced to liquidate his 401(k)s, which are now gone. He lost his job after the company declared bankruptcy under the control of Bain.

While 750 workers lost their jobs, Bain made billions of dollars in profit. Bain denied workers the severance pay and health insurance they had been promised, and their retirement benefits were reduced by as much as $400 a month.

Randy Johnson had worked for nine years at an office supply factory in Marion, Indiana, when American Pad and Paper, which had been acquired by Bain, bought out the factory in 1994. Johnson was hired back, but without a union contract. He lost his pension plan, and his wages and benefits were reduced.

After an unsuccessful effort to negotiate a contract, the plant closed. Johnson and more than 250 of his fellow workers were fired. Johnson, who had tried to get Romney’s attention during the labor dispute, said, “I really think [Romney] didn’t care about the workers. It was all about profit over people.”

A bully does not care whom he may hurt by his tormenting behavior. He intimidates the vulnerable for his own benefit, or amusement. He lacks compassion. Romney fits this profile.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her most recent book is The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse.


33 comments for “Mitt Romney, the Bully

  1. dahoit
    May 20, 2012 at 13:21

    I’d vote for Romney over some lying stab in the back Manchurian creep like our current bully(ask Muslims) any day of the week.
    And I can’t stand his positions either,but at least won’t be enraged by getting my back knifed every freakin day by this fraud.
    Give me a republican instead of a dem in rep drag anyday.
    Ron Paul 2012!
    And PS,knowing dogs,I bet his dog had the ride of his life in that stupid hit on Romney tying his dog(in a cage) to the roof.You have noticed that dogs love to sniff the air,haven’t you.The same with this stupid bully crap from 50?years ago on the now alleged homosexual.Pathetic.

  2. Bill
    May 15, 2012 at 16:23

    Romney’s character hasn’t improved a bit. Reminds me of W’s mental issues, recall when he mocked a death row inmate Karla Faye Tucker. or when he lied about being a “compassionate” conservative.

    This country has so many serious problems and Romney is the choice of the repubs. God help us al.
    BTW, God doesn’t need these two jokers, Mitt and W, to do his work.
    If God wants something done God will do it himself or get someone competent to do it for him.

  3. Gregory L Kruse
    May 15, 2012 at 13:31

    Sarah Palin would make a great VP for Romney, then we could have two bullies on the same ticket.

  4. darcy
    May 14, 2012 at 17:31

    Is Romney still a bully? Does he still get off on inflicting pain on others? Yes. Yes, he’s still a bully.
    I know a few people in managerial positions that occasionally have to fire or lay off employees, and they hate doing it. Because, you know, even if it’s necessary, it’s a hurtful thing to do.
    But not ol’Romney. He openly admits he enjoys it. Is so far removed from the bounds of human decency that he doesn’t even know that he shouldn’t admit it. Doesn’t have a clue that the rest of us will be a little shocked by that whiff of sadism.

  5. the bookchuck
    May 14, 2012 at 13:05

    No matter your age, it is likely that you have experienced bullying, sometime in your past, in one of four or five ways; 1: you WERE a bully, 2: you admired a bully, 3: you were a victim, or 4: you were a witness (likely one sympathetic to the victim, see #2, inc. ‘potential’ victims). Even without experiencing bullying, you might find yourself in group #4. Finally, and probably most rarely, 5: you actively challenged or overcame the bully, in some direct form or fashion.

    Considering the Machiavellian (philosophical), Christian (theological), social (sociological or Civic), and judicial (legal) tenets supposedly involved, it should be a reasonably easy question to answer as to which side of this issue one wants to be (was, is) supporting. If memory serves and allowed some statistical guesses, my suspicion would be that there are many more people (voters) in group #4 than the others combined, and more might assumptively like to be in group #5, than in any of the others. I would hazard the prediction that the opportunity to do so might well be at hand.

    If you like the Golden Rule, if you follow a given Religious belief, if you have a personal philosophy about how one should deal with their fellow man, esp. one that values and trades in positivity, charity, co-operation and growth, rather than negativity, greed, animosity and decay, then I would imagine it will be quite clear to many which is the appropriate lever to pull.

  6. Karen Romero
    May 14, 2012 at 13:03

    Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are the same person in two different skins.

    • UpsyDaisy
      May 14, 2012 at 21:50

      Yeah. I’m sure Mitt Romney would have saved the American auto industry, repealed DADT, pulled out of Iraq, turned health insurance corporations into a regulated public utility, reformed derivatives and speculation in commodities, student loans, fair pay, less nukes, exit strategy for Afghanistan, Bin Laden, middle income tax cuts, alternative energy investments(while calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies), deficit reduction, cost savings, busting up two of the biggest Medicare fraud scams in Medicare’s history(rescuing hundreds of of millions of premium dollars)what else? GDP from -6.8 to the DOW over 13,000, private sector spurs to the horse. yippie ki yeah, America. Republicans are devaluing our labor and productivity, devaluing our credit worthiness in sane hands. Their House and Senate is a morally and fiscally dilapidated construct. Shame on them. President Obama is a friend to democracy, social justice, American history, and rule of law. That’s just a fact. Republicans offer poll taxes and zero taxes for monopolies and continued corporate welfare. President’s out there telling it like it is. Some of you could stand to reason much better. Because some of you get a way with it, and far too easily selling “Awesome” like it was a sack of broken glass.

      • ilse
        May 15, 2012 at 16:10

        Mitt claims to have saved the auto industry. (Recent article in the NY Times)

  7. Bill Jones
    May 14, 2012 at 12:13

    It’s always a laugh to hear liberals pontificating how Romney’s bullying of a half century ago makes him unfit for the quotidian presidential business of slaughtering women and children around the world a la Obama.

    • Ben
      May 16, 2012 at 12:15


  8. dahoit
    May 14, 2012 at 11:18

    Romney and Obomba are fraternal twins of corporatism,war,banksters,and every nation destroying globalist monster disaster we are experiencing,they both suck the big whanger.
    Ron Paul 2012,and lets take back America from the serial lying,serial screw up,neolibcon criminals,a bunch of the most overpaid,overweening miseducated losers in world history,drunk on their own racist myth of infallibility and their poison ivy league credentials.
    And that’s their good points.sheesh.

  9. May 14, 2012 at 06:12

    What irks me is that Mormons teach pantheism, then when they are questioned they say they are monotheistic. They teach there are multiple Gods and that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers. They also teach that black people are cursed.

    • F. G. Sanford
      May 14, 2012 at 12:57

      How about the ones that believe in Adam and Eve, and all the incest that must have been going on. Then Cain killed Abel, and proceeded to have sex with his mother. I mean, how else did we get here? An there’s that guy Noah that built the boat in his back yard. It was so big that toady, you would need a railroad siding and twenty years just to get the wood delivered. And when the trip was over, we were back to the old incest story again. At least with the Mormons, you can find out what really happened by looking up the old newspaper stories. Joseph Smith was a convicted felon, guilty of con-artistry. But if we knew the truth about the other prophets in history, they might turn out to be just as irksome. Let’s face it. If some of this stuff is loony, it’s all loony. No exceptions. Except maybe sun-worship. At least you can prove it exists. But even that would be pretty loony. Hey, did you all hear about Magic Mormon Underwear? I wonder if Mitt wears his. I think it’s supposed to prevent gayness.

      • ButWhatDoIKnow
        May 16, 2012 at 04:37

        Very well stated. I didn’t know that about Joseph Smith. I wonder how much his religion will be looked at. They played the heck out of Rev Wright and contextually and culturally, he wasn’t even meaning what he said literally. The GD America bit. He was just saying shame on some of the stuff the U.S. has done as a nation. And this nation has done some bad stuff like a young spoiled juvenile child of a nation that we are.

  10. trent
    May 14, 2012 at 04:33

    I was born in salt lake city utah and I have been around mormons all my life! for 12 years I was tortured almost every day in school and church!! yes ! I was a different kind of kid than most.I was shy,artistic,and i loved to dance more than anything else !!! I was told I was a fem,queer,pansey,cock
    sucker and so on and so forth. every day from age five to hair was cut,my clothing cut or ripped,I was thrown in rose bushes,beat with sticks,shoved to the ground and urinated on day after day for 12 years just because I was not what thay thought I should be.How can adult people stand by and watch this happening to a child that is poor and has a learning
    disability? every day my alcoholic father would say (well you let them do it to you…) I ask you all one thing, no matter what church you go to. is god telling you to hate someone or is it your want or need to feel superior that is in control.all of us want to be happy Mr Romney !!!!! I would also like to know why you think god needs you to control other people. he is god and he loves me the way he made me and that is all there is to say .

    • mariska fermie
      May 14, 2012 at 06:02

      i hope you met some people that make u feel ur okay…i dont understand why the so called bible-loving people think they have to take over god’s job and judge over others,just because u have the bible in ur hand doesnt mean u have a ticket into heaven and knows what is right from wrong,otherwise there would be no priest sexual abusing young children and so on.trent,i hope you know that by now.greetings from amsterdam

    • ButWhatDoIKnow
      May 16, 2012 at 04:32

      I hope you got out of there

      growing up in a small conservative town in Texas, I can relate a little.
      I wasn’t physically accosted a lot but I definitely got the taunts and names

      there are many loving people in the world …. find them / us

  11. UpsyDaisy
    May 14, 2012 at 04:00


    No, the Post wasn’t lying. They made a correction. You don’t really comprehend, or extrapolate logical conclusion, do you?

    And, the economy went from -6.8 GDP to the DOW over 13,000 under Obama’s watch. Corporations are swimming in profits and the lowest tax rates in their unnatural lifetimes. If the economy is bad for you, blame the job creators. They’ve got all the cash and power. Ever think they could be making your life miserable for a reason?

  12. Joe
    May 14, 2012 at 02:29

    Obama fired about 25 million people. I’m about to lose my job because the economy is so bad. He claims he saved GM, but all he did was take my money and give it to their pensions (10,000 per vehicle) and for bonuses for CEO’s. The CEO’s at Hostess are also taking money from my checks for their bonuses and raises. So i have to pay for them and GM apparently.

    • al
      May 14, 2012 at 03:17

      Yes,Joe Obama is a communist and a was born somewhere in Africa. He will not allow his dog on the airplane or in his car because he knows that dogs are impure. He wants to Kill G.M and Hostess just to get rid of you. Joe, I love you but please read and confirm the “facts” that cause you so much fear. You are an example of what the righwing doom sayers want. “The sky is falling”, The sky is falling!! Joe take a deep breath and look honestly at what President Obama has accomplished in the past 3 years. Personally I’m unhappy about the fact he will not look into war crimes or sign the Land Mines Treaty. Joe, let’s all take a deep breath and look at things logically. President Obama was not driving the Bus when it went over the cliff.

      • Frances in California
        May 15, 2012 at 14:04

        Take a deep breath, Al. Joe is getting paid to post like this; would anyone sign his name to post like that, else?

    • Ben
      May 14, 2012 at 08:44

      Joe, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and stop complaining. Work at McDonalds, cut your cable bill off, cut your cell phone service, don’t purchase soda or snacks, and only eat what you need to maintain sustenance. Cope, stop complaining. /end sarcasm

    • ilse
      May 15, 2012 at 16:00

      Joe, I am surprised you have not been fired. I thought someone like you would be fired first, because of their stupidity.

  13. Joe
    May 14, 2012 at 02:27

    More liberal dishonesty. It has already come out that the Post was lying.
    Interesting that they made this one up just after gay activists threatened to pull their millions from Obama and to stop pushing for his re-election if he didn’t come out in support of gay marriage.

    • Ben
      May 14, 2012 at 08:41

      “More liberal dishonesty.” That sentence is all I need to conclude you’re not very intelligent.

  14. jay collins
    May 14, 2012 at 02:23

    I really like obama alot. Iam not at all against gay people.Iam African Amarican Democrate.Mitt let obama know that tha myrical of birth is man and woman and that is not to be taken lightly.Now not every man and woman can make a baby or make a healthy baby. But when man and woman make a blessed child it is a myrical of amazing devine power and that reality of power of god must be protected some how by man kind in order to keep devine respect to and for god out of all iniquity of us all.Obama needs a GOD smack give him one.

    • al
      May 14, 2012 at 03:00

      Jay:Read your comments.”myrical” Please check your spelling. Gods power needs no protection from you or anyone else. Perhaps you should be less judgemental and let God do what he needs to do. “Obama needs a GOD smack give him one”??? What is this!!!
      The world according to Jay Collins. I hope I’m in line behind you when you try to defend your judgement to GOD
      Being an African American Democrate does not exempt you from being stupid.
      Please read, read everything, knowledge is important,,,,

    • Ben
      May 14, 2012 at 08:40

      Your comment is incomprehensible.

    • Frances in California
      May 15, 2012 at 14:02

      Jay, spelling aside, neither you nor I know what god should “do”. Respect goes both ways. So far, the President has been respectful toward all regardless. Rich dudes have proved every day since the 2008 Crash that they don’t respect other Americans, or even other human beings. Romney doesn’t need to move into the White House and take even more from working Americans, whose religion is, after all, is none of his business.

      • Nancy
        May 16, 2012 at 12:17

        There is much truth to the fact that the wealthiest Republicans flat out don’t give a crap. An ex friend chastised and bullied me because I spoke out against the corporate executives who outsourced all the IT jobs to overseas cheap labor.

        When I balked at a possible temporary job where the employer called on Tuesday and wanted me to start on Wednesday, she insisted that employers just don’t have to care anymore and they refuse to treat people as special. I was coming home from out of town, they called while I was on the road. It was a 1099 job, so I would have to provide office, computer, phone, and pay my own taxes for half what my normal w2 jobs paid.

        When I asked this Vice President of a major International Company if she could help me with my job search — offer a lead, see if her company could use me anywhere — the normal networking stuff — Guess What She Did?

        She stuffed my resume in a folder and asked me to edit some weird spy novel she was writing. Then she asked me to help her create a website for her grandson and help him write a book. FOR FREE

        When we later voiced our opinions about corporate executive greed, and were clearly referencing our previous employer — this woman became a complete bullying B**tch.

        The more success she knows, the less compassion for anyone she has.

        • May 21, 2012 at 15:09

          Her definition of success reminds me of some people I know, they are so self centered that there is no logic or reason or empathy for others.

    • ilse
      May 15, 2012 at 15:57

      Possibly you wrote this at 2.23 AM while being drunk? It makes no sense.

    • Kevin
      May 16, 2012 at 01:22

      This comment was not written by an “African Amarican Democrate”. It was written by a Repubelican (sic) who wants to make both Democrats and African-Americans look bad. Sorry if anyone got trolled.

Comments are closed.