Dickerson: Romney high school story comes at a bad time but not damaging long-term

John Dickerson
CBS News Political Director John Dickerson on the October 16th edition of "Face the Nation."

(CBS News) -- A portrait of Mitt Romney's high school years that includes a highly unflattering account of a bullying incident comes at a bad time for the presumptive Republican nominee but is not likely to change the outcome of the election, CBS News political director John Dickerson said Friday.

"It comes at a bad time for him because he's not really well defined for the broader part of the electorate," Dickerson said on "CBS This Morning."

A Washington Post story published this week led with a vivid description of Romney repeatedly clipping the hair of a young man - presumed by other students to be gay - while other classmates pinned him to the floor, as the victim screamed for help and his eyes filled with tears.

Mitt Romney repeatedly apologized Thursday for the pranks, though he said he does not remember "them all."

"I tell you I certainly don't believe that I ... thought the fella was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s. So that was not the case. But as to pranks that were played back then, I don't remember them all but again, high school days - if I did stupid things I'm afraid I gotta say sorry for it," Romney told Fox News radio host Brian Kilmeade Thursday.

Dickerson said the most salient factor for voters is if there is a pattern of behavior that relates to his character now and "nobody's been able to find any current behavior that's like this from him."

"To really damage him, it has to sustain, it has to continue on for a long time. His opponent, President Obama, has to kind of work this issue. There's not any evidence that's going to happen," Dickerson said.