Decision 2012

May 11, 2012 2:41 PM

THE RACE: Romney not first politico dogged by past

(AP) - Once again, a politician is being haunted by allegations of youthful misbehavior.

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney would rather talk about the economy than a news report that he bullied a gay classmate in prep school. But the controversy isn't fading.

Romney couldn't recall the incident but said "I did some stupid things in high school." He apologized if his "hijinks and pranks" offended anyone.

He's not the first candidate to battle ghosts of the past.

When he was 20, George W. Bush was arrested for disorderly conduct for stealing a Christmas wreath from a hotel. A 30-year-old Bush in 1976 was arrested for driving under the influence near his parents' compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. He was fined $150 and lost his drivers' license for two years.

He has said he quit drinking after waking up hung over from his 40th birthday party. The former president never flatly denied persistent allegations of youthful cocaine use.

President Bill Clinton admitted briefly experimenting with marijuana while a student in England but famously "didn't inhale."

President Barack Obama has acknowledged using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine when he was college-aged. "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it," he wrote in "Dreams from My Father." They were "bad decisions," he said later.

Obama's lately been getting some GOP flak for writing that he ate dog meat as a young boy in Indonesia - when he was between five and ten.

How far back is one accountable?

The late Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., may have set the gold standard for age-doesn't-matter when he dismissed a years-ago extramarital affair as a "youthful indiscretion." He was 41 at the time of the relationship.

Romney was campaigning Friday in Charlotte, N.C. while Obama was in Reno, Nev.

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