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.
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