The Associated Press May 11, 2012 By Kasie Hunt and Philip Elliott KANSAS CITY, Mo. Republican Mitt Romney is trying to shift his campaign’s focus backto the sluggish economic recovery and will use a commencementspeech at an evangelical university in Lynchburg, Va., to caststrong families as central to a strong economy. “Although opportunities seem scarce in this economy, it is notfor nothing that you have spent this time preparing. America needsyour talent and your energy, all the more now that our country’s ina tough spot,” the presumptive Republican presidential nomineewill tell graduates Saturday at Liberty University, theconservative Christian school founded by the late Rev.
JerryFalwell. “In the most practical, everyday terms, the bestcultural assets are values as basic as personal responsibility, thedignity of hard work, and, above all, the commitments offamily.” Romney also will tell the graduates to cherish time with theirfamilies, saying he “never once regretted missing anyexperience or opportunity in business” to be with his wife andfive sons. “Regrets usually come the other way around, frommissing moments with your children that don’t come again,” thewealthy former businessman said. Romney’s campaign released excerpts of his speech a day early.
Hisremarks will be delivered a few days after he reaffirmed hisopposition to same-sex marriage after President Barack Obama’shistoric embrace of gay marriage. The former Massachusetts governoralso spent Thursday shrugging off a news report that he had bullieda gay classmate in prep school. Today, Romney will try to shift the discussion back to jobs and theeconomy during an appearance in North Carolina, where voters thisweek approved a constitutional ban on same-sex unions. While raising money Thursday in Kansas City, Mo., Romney all butignored the discussion of gays and lesbians prompted by Obama’sendorsement of gay marriage. Komatsu Turbocharger
The renewed attention on gay rightscame as Obama thrust the issue into the forefront by becoming thefirst president to support allowing gay couples to wed, shiftingthe campaign debate to social issues, where Romney faces skepticismamong the Republican base. “This is a time when we can follow this president down a roadof decline and weakness or we can take a course that is based on apositive dynamic and a bold vision for this country,” he said. During a fundraiser and public appearance earlier Thursday inOmaha, Neb., Romney hammered his vision for economic greatness,telling supporters “this could be the beginning of anextraordinary century for America.” Obama’s unexpected embrace of gay marriage continued to overwhelmthe presidential campaign as liberals and conservatives debated thepolitical merits of his endorsement of an issue over which apresident has little practical impact. For Romney, the discussion of gay rights turned personal when TheWashington Post published a story recounting how he and severalschoolmates held down classmate John Lauber and cut off hisbleached blond hair after seeking him out in his dorm room at theirboarding school in the wealthy Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills,Mich. Komatsu Turbocharger
The Post said Lauber was “perpetually teased for hisnonconformity and presumed homosexuality” and that he screamedfor help as Romney held him down and forcibly hacked off his hair.The paper recounted another incident in which Romney shouted”atta girl” to a different student at the all-boys’school who, years later, came out as gay. At no point on Thursday did Romney volunteer comments about thereport or about Obama’s views on gay rights. But he did apologizefor what he characterized as tomfoolery when asked by reporters. “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during highschool and some may have gone too far. China Deutz Turbocharger
And for that Iapologize,” Romney told Fox News during a hastily arrangedradio interview. Romney said he didn’t remember the Lauber incident, but also didn’tdispute that it happened. He stressed that he didn’t know eitherstudent was gay and moved quickly to counter any suggestion he hadtargeted students because they were. “That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s,so that was not the case,” he said, adding that the studentsinvolved “didn’t come out of the closet until yearslater.” In a second interview Thursday, Romney laid out what he said washis long-held position on gay rights: While opposed to gaymarriage, he said states should be allowed to grant variousdomestic partnership rights to same-sex couples, including theright to adopt children.
“States could have their own decisions with regards to thedomestic partnership rights,” Romney told Fox News in hissecond interview of the day with the network. “But mypreference would be to have a national standard for marriage andthat marriage would be defined as being between a man and awoman.” He said he would go as far as supporting gay couples who want toadopt children. “If two people of the same gender want to livetogether, want to have a loving relationship and even want to adopta child — in my state, individuals of the same sex are ableto adopt children — in my view, that’s something which peoplehave the right to do.” Romney’s advisers signaled they planned to campaign on the issuebut acknowledged they would have to tread carefully. “I thinkit’s important to be respectful in how we talk about ourdifferences, but the fact is that’s a significant difference inNovember,” Ed Gillespie, a senior Romney adviser, saidThursday on MSNBC.
Hunt reported from Washington.