By Alicia M. Cohn - 05/11/12 01:36 PM EDT
An adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign defended the candidate's "kind impulses" on Friday, pointing to his treatment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry during recent GOP debates as proof.
Kerry Healey, Romney's former lieutenant governor in Massachusetts and now an adviser to the Romney campaign, defended the presumptive GOP nominee against charges that he bullied other students during his high school years.
“The real question here is, is Mitt Romney a bully? And the answer is no," she said. "Mitt Romney is absolutely, as his other friend from high school said — he doesn't have a vicious bone in his body.”
In defending Romney as "deeply compassionate" and "unfailingly kind," she pointed to moments during the GOP primary when Romney was "being attacked from every side."
"His response was always professional, calm, civil," she pointed out. "In fact, he even intervened on behalf [of] — to try to help — Gov. Perry when he was stumbling [in attempting to remember a talking point during a debate]. His impulses are very kind impulses and there should be no debate about whether or not Gov. Romney is a bully."
Perry, who has since dropped his bid for the White House, famously forgot the third in a series of Cabinet-level departments he proposed to eliminate as president, later explaining it as "a brain freeze for 54 seconds" on stage last November.
At the time, both Ron Paul and Romney attempted to prompt Perry with suggestions for the final department he could not name.
Romney this week also failed to remember a prank described by several classmates as "vicious" in a story published Thursday by The Washington Post.
"Back in high school, you know, I did some dumb things," Romney said on the “Kilmeade & Friends” radio program Thursday. "If anyone was hurt by that or offended by that, obviously, I apologize. But overall, high school years were a long time ago."
The Washington Post reported that as a teenager, Romney took part in a prank that involved pinning down and cutting the hair of a new student. Romney said that at the time, he had no idea the student was gay.
“We have to take Gov. Romney at his word about this,” Healey said Friday. “Gov. Romney has an excellent record in terms of employing gay individuals in his administration, making sure that they are treated with respect.”