Tales from the Trail

The animal nature of the 2012 presidential race

By Eric Johnson
May 8, 2012

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, whom Democrats have raked over the coals for once transporting Seamus, the family dog, in a crate strapped to the roof of the car during a road trip, hit back during a fundraiser at a hotel in downtown Indianapolis on Monday evening, telling the audience that “even the animals are suffering in the Obama economy.”

Democrats have used the tale of Seamus, who lost control of his bowels on the trip to Canada, to portray Romney as an uncaring former private equity executive. But Romney, who makes his corporate acumen the linchpin of his electoral pitch, focused on the story of a couple he met on the trail who owned a struggling veterinary clinic.

The business was down 40 percent and the couple were forced to move to a smaller home and were thinking of selling their business, Romney told the room of roughly 200 supporters, many of whom paid between $2,500 and $50,000 to attend the fundraiser hours before Indiana voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s hotly contested primary.

Romney, who had been warmly introduced by Governor Mitch Daniels, explained that the couple’s business suffered not because of bad customer service but because of the bad economy.

“What happened is, people are cutting back on care for their pets. Vaccines and other things. They’re just not doing it,” Romney said, before deadpanning: “I guess even the animals are suffering in the Obama economy.”

The supporters roared.

Last month, both the Romney and Obama campaigns needled each other over the relationship the candidates had to their respective pets.

Obama campaign senior advisor David Axelrod used Twitter to post a photo of the Democratic incumbent and the Obama family dog, Bo, riding inside the presidential limousine.

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

In response, 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.”

Photo credit: Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at the Exhibit Edge building in Chantilly, Virginia, May 2, 2012. REUTERS/Benjamin Myers

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