Washington Extra – Going to the dogs

April 19, 2012

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (C) is seen here in 2008 with his grandson Parker and his son Craig greeting a dog at a campaign stop in Bluffton, South Carolina in this file photo (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst). AT LEFT: U.S. President Barack Obama bends down to pet his dog, Bo, outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington March 15, 2012 (REUTERS/Larry Downing).

U.S. President Barack Obama bends down to pet his dog, Bo, outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington March 15, 2012.   It’s now official: The presidential campaign is going to the dogs. And like a lot of things this election year, it’s doing so via Twitter.

For months, aides to Republican Mitt Romney have tried to live down the much-publicized tale of the Romney family’s trip to Canada in 1983, when Romney transported the family dog, Seamus, in a crate that was strapped to the top of the car. The episode, in which the dog lost control of his bowels, has been lampooned by Democrats who have portrayed Romney as an uncaring former corporate executive.

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Democratic President Barack Obama, used Twitter to post a photo of his boss and the Obama family dog, riding inside the presidential limousine.

“How loving owners transport their dogs,” Axelrod wrote.

Late Tuesday the Republicans struck back on the dog front – and did so in a way that reflected how the Romney and Obama campaigns are using Twitter, often several times a day, to throw verbal darts at each other.

After The Daily Caller, a conservative news website, reminded its audience that in his book “Dreams from My Father,” Obama had described being fed dog meat when he was living in Indonesia between the ages of 6 and 10, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom re-tweeted Axelrod’s photo of Obama and Bo but added a new caption: “In hindsight, a chilling photo.”

Thus began a night of dog-themed political chatter on Twitter, which both campaigns say has quickly become a crucial vehicle for delivering their messages – whether they involve serious policy issues, or, well, other stuff.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

US troops pose with Afghan insurgent bodies – American troops are seen posing with the maimed bodies of suspected Afghan insurgents in photos published on Wednesday by a U.S. newspaper in an incident that threatened to further fray U.S. relations with Afghanistan’s government and prompted the Pentagon chief to issue an apology. For more of this story by Jack Kimball and Missy Ryan, read here.

US regulators pull back on swap dealer crackdown – U.S. regulators limited the number of market players that will be slapped with a pricey “swap dealer” tag, heeding warnings by swap users about getting too tough but dismaying advocates of greater oversight. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission finalized joint rules that will determine which firms must register with regulators and back up their trades with more capital and collateral. For more of this story by Alexandra Alper and Sarah N. Lynch, read here.

On Twitter, campaigns dog each other with insults – It’s either an amusing way to follow the 2012 presidential campaign, or the death rattle for meaningful political discourse in America. Either way, top campaign aides to Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have taken to Twitter with relish, in daily verbal battles that underscore how negative – and silly – the campaign could be during the next six-plus months. For more of this story by Sam Youngman, read here.

Obama vs. Romney: Close, nasty and unpredictable – The 2012 presidential election is more than six months away, but here is what we know so far: It is going to be close, it is going to be nasty, and the outcome could turn on a series of unpredictable events. Democratic President Barack Obama is a slight favorite now, but as tightening poll numbers suggest, his lead over Republican Mitt Romney is tenuous. For more of this story by John Whitesides, read here.

VIDEO-Barack Obama’s billionaire backers are Super PAC no-shows – Billionaires who backed President Barack Obama in the past are not matching the million-dollar donations flowing into Republican Super PACs supporting Mitt Romney. Reuters White House Correspondent Jeff Mason says this is creating a worry for the Obama 2012 election campaign. For more of this video by Reuters TV, read here.

Obama presses Latino advantage with new ads, voter outreach – Barack Obama’s re-election campaign launched a series of Spanish-language ads and a new program to win over Latino voters in an effort to expand the Democratic president’s growing advantage with Hispanics. Obama is hoping to capitalize on polls showing strong support from women and Latinos, two constituency groups that could decide the Nov. 6 election against likely Republican challenger Mitt Romney. For more of this story by Jeff Mason, read here.

US House panel okays $33 bln in food stamp cuts – A U.S. congressional panel approved about $33 billion in cuts over 10 years from food assistance programs in a partisan vote that signaled Republican members’ preference to trim social programs instead of farm programs or defense spending this year. The cuts advanced by the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee are expected to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate. For more of this story by Emily Stephenson, read here.

“We gonna pawty,” said wife of high-flying US official – A U.S. government official at the center of an election-year  spending scandal kept traveling far and wide at taxpayers’ expense – long after his boss was advised a year ago of suspected abuses, according to a congressional review released today. The official, Jeff Neely, made four-day visits in March to Hawaii and Napa, California, just days before he was placed on leave at the General Services Administration, pending further investigation and possible criminal charges, the review showed. For more of this story by Thomas Ferraro, read here.

US top court: torture law applies only to people – The Palestinian Authority and PLO cannot be sued under a 1991 U.S. victim protection law over the alleged torture of an American in a West Bank prison, the Supreme Court ruled today, holding that the law only applies to individuals. The justices unanimously agreed with the Obama administration that the Torture Victim Protection Act allowed civil lawsuits in U.S. courts only against a person who had engaged in torture or killing, not against groups. For more of this story by James Vicini, read here.


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There is a photo of a dog who really does not trust the hand that is petting him… clever dog

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