Breaking: Romney apologizes for high-school pranks; Update: Audio added

Thankfully, our long national nightmare is over:

Mitt Romney apologized on Thursday morning for pranks he helped orchestrate in high school that he said “might have gone too far,” including an incident in which he pinned down a fellow student and cut his hair.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee was responding to an article published a few hours earlier by The Washington Post documenting the episode with first-hand accounts from Romney’s classmates.

“Back in high school, I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that,” Romney said in a live radio interview with Fox News Channel personality Brian Kilmeade. Romney added: “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school and some might have gone too far and for that, I apologize.”

Romney’s campaign hastily scheduled the radio interview for the candidate to call in from Omaha, where he is holding a campaign event later Wednesday, to respond to The Post’s report.

Politically speaking, this was the smart thing to do. Other campaigns would have tried challenging the veracity of the stories and/or the motives of the witnesses, but that’s a losing proposition.  The more a campaign debates those points, the longer the story goes, and the more legitimacy it has in the media. Instead, the Romney campaign made it an old story before it began to grow legs by just expressing remorse over any cruelty that may have taken place in high school.

I eagerly await the next set of stories about how in middle school Romney refused to give cuts in line to kids from low-income families, or how he shamelessly violated the “exies-no-erasies” rule in elementary school with his female classmates.

Update: Via BuzzFeed, here’s the audio from Romney’s interview in its entirety:

“I don’t remember that incident,” Romney told Kilmeade, chuckling. “I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s, so that was not the case.”

One e-mailer suggested that the hairstyle might have been the focus of the prank, not perceived orientation.  Cranbrook would likely have had a fairly strict set of rules on personal appearance.  Either way, it’s still a mean-spirited thing to do, but teenage boys (or girls, for that matter) aren’t known for their sense of proportion or maturity in every moment of the day, either.