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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / Sunday Shows

Democratic Senator Defends Romney's Character

photo of Alexandra  Jaffe
May 13, 2012

A top Democrat on Sunday defended Mitt Romney's character, saying that despite recent reports that Romney was a bully as a young man attending prep school, he believes that has little to do with the man Romney is today.

"There's not a single thing that I know about Mitt Romney in his adult life which suggests this kind of discrimination or this kind of prejudice. And so I don't believe it was a telling moment in terms of who he is today," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on CNN's State of the Union.

Durbin's comments were in response to a Washington Post report that Romney had engaged in numerous pranks and some incidents of bullying when he was a teenager at the Cranbrook Schools in Michigan, including one incident where he and a group of boys held another boy down and forcibly cut his hair. The news has raised questions about Romney's character.

 

Durbin did say he found it hard to believe Romney’s claim that he couldn't remember the incident, but that he didn't think it was an indicator of Romney’s character as an adult.

The Washington Post story on Romney’s school days and President Obama's support for same-sex marriage dominated the week's political discussion, and both Durbin and his counterpart on State of the Union, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, weighed in on the latter. Durbin praised Obama's decision to come out in support of same-sex marriage on Tuesday, saying that he was right and he didn't think Obama's support was politically-motivated.

"I don't think it was a political calculation by the president. I think it was a matter of conscience. He talked it over with his wife and his children," Durbin said, adding that he doesn't believe it will affect Obama's reelection chances.

Cornyn, however, refused to weigh in on the political fallout surrounding Obama's statement, instead bringing focus back to the economy. It's a tactic the Romney campaign has tried to adhere to, even as issues like same-sex marriage make it difficult.

"President Obama brought this issue up because he wants to – he can't run on his record," he said. "He's trying to raise divisive issues up to solidify his base and to divide the country, and that isn't what we should be focusing on now. We should be focusing on jobs and the economy."

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