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Video: Romney’s rivals sharpen attacks in SC

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    >> now to presidential politics and the harsh attacks being faced by gop front-runner, mitt romney . are they serving to hurt the republican party as a whole. we'll talk about that with tom brokaw in just a moment. but first, nbc's peter alexander is in greer, south carolina with the latest on the campaign trail. hey, p hey, peter, good morning.

    >> we flew down to south carolina with governor romney . on the plane he told us that the big win on tuesday night felt like christmas morning . but in many ways, that was a home game, he's from just next door in boston. this is like going on the road. and he is well aware that the blistering attacks here will make it much less pleasant.

    >> how do you feel?

    >> great.

    >> it may be warm in south carolina , but the political climate is about to get much hotter for front-runner, mitt romney .

    >> the next president of the united states , governor mitt romney .

    >> reporter: fog back-to-back victories in iowa and namvy, romney now appears increasingly confident. trying to present himself as the inevitable republican nominee. focusing exclusively on president obama .

    >> i know we're going through tough times, and we're going through tough times in part because of the failure of one man, and that's why he's got to go.

    >> reporter: here in socially-conservative south carolina , where the primary is notorious for nasty politics, romney 's opponents are sharpening their attacks.

    >> massachusetts moderate, mitt romney , he can't be trusted.

    >> reporter: newt gingrich 's latest td ad targets romney on abortion.

    >> what happened after massachusetts moderate mitt romney changed his position from pro abortion to pro life ?

    >> reporter: and there's been no let-up in the barrage of criticism over romney 's record as the former head of bain capital .

    >> greed, for lack of a better word, is good.

    >> reporter: this gordon gekko impersonator greeted romney in south carolina . both gingrich and rick perry kept piling on.

    >> crony capitalism, where people pay each other off at the expense of the rest of the country is not free enterprise , and raising questions about that is not wrong.

    >> i happen to think that companies like bain capital , could have come in and helped these companies. if they truly were venture capitalists . but they're not. they're vulture capitalists.

    >> and there's even a gingrich web ad that hounds romney for a road trip years ago when he put the family pet, seamus on the roof of his car.

    >> this is a completely air-tight kennel. mounted on the top of our car. he climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself. we love the dog.

    >> reporter: and among the more serious attacks, a superpac supporting newt gingrich posted in its entirety, a 28-minute bruising movie about governor romney 's time at bain. we'll put a screen shot of that up on your screen. it includes this shot that shows governor romney on the tarmac, his feet kicked up. getting polished in front of a corporate jet . i spoke with senior adviser with the romney campaign. who said they were prepared for these attacks, but they expected them not from the republicans, but from the democrats.

TODAY contributor
updated 1/12/2012 11:27:26 AM ET 2012-01-12T16:27:26

For Mitt Romney, the dog days aren't over.

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A nearly 30-year-old story involving the GOP hopeful's treatment of the family pooch resurfaced Wednesday in an ad produced by Newt Gingrich’s campaign.

The ad, meant to appeal to canine lovers and question Romney’s ability to defeat President Obama, is titled “For the Dogs.’’ It rehashes a story first reported by the Boston Globe in 2007 about how Romney once drove with the family dog, Seamus, tied to the roof of the car inside a special kennel during a 12-hour road trip to Canada in 1983.

Video: Brokaw on the GOP presidential race (on this page)

When Romney’s son noticed a brown liquid trickling down the side of the car, Romney stopped at a service station to hose off the kennel and the Irish setter, who had diarrhea, before returning Seamus to his rooftop perch for the rest of the drive.

The dog has long since passed but the story is still alive: The ad surfaced on Gingrich's first day of campaigning in South Carolina, shortly after he told reporters in New Hampshire that his staff is “not getting into personal stuff’’ when it comes to attacking Romney.

Story: Romney on attacks: I can handle the heat and take on Obama

Boston Globe reporter Neil Swidey, who first unearthed the Seamus anecdote, wrote a new story, "What our fascination with Mitt Romney's dog Seamus says about our culture," on January 8. Swidey points out the inaccuracies that have emerged in the four years since his scoop was first published, and muses about the ongoing relevance of the tale.

“Although I think it would be nuts for voters to base their presidential selection solely on this incident, it’s always struck me as a valuable window into how Romney operates,’’ Swidey wrote. “In everything the guy does, he functions on logic, not emotion.’’

Vote: Should Romney dog tale be a campaign issue? (on this page)

In the Gingrich ad, as plucking strings play in the background, the dog story is part of a montage of controversial Romney comments. The tag line: “The most important question this election: Who can defeat Barack Obama in the debates this fall?’’

“I have a yellow lab named Winston. I would no sooner put him in a kennel on the roof of my car than I would one of my children,’’ Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asks Romney in an old interview featured in the clip. “Question: What were you thinking?”

"This is a completely air-tight kennel and mounted on the top of our car,” Romney tells Wallace. “He climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself. He was in a kennel at home, a great deal of time as well. We loved the dog. It was where he was comfortable and we had five kids inside the car. My guess is he liked it a lot better in his kennel than he would have liked it inside."

The ad concludes with the lines, “Imagine what Obama would do with a candidate like that. Only Newt Gingrich can win the debates against Obama. Romney can’t.’’

Story: Newt (the politician) mourns Knut (the polar bear)

Gingrich does not own any pets, but is a noted animal lover. His campaign created a website called “Pets With Newt’’ in late December, where his followers upload photos of their animals. Whether it was meant to tweak the Romney campaign about Seamus is not clear.

“I will neither confirm nor deny that that’s why Pets with Newt was launched,” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told Fox News.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Vote: Should Romney dog tale be a campaign issue?

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