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Campaign 2012

Romney Sidesteps Dog Wars

An adviser turns the Seamus issue against Obama, but Romney declines to engage.


Chief Obama strategist David Axelrod used a photo of President Obama riding in his car with his Portuguese water dog, Bo, to make a dig at Republican hopeful Mitt Romney. The caption he tweeted read, “How loving owners transport their dogs,” a pointed comment referring to Romney's admission that he transported his family dog on the roof of his car.(David Axelrod)

The opening salvo in another political war--over dogs, no less--was sounded on Tuesday night by Mitt Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom. But Romney on Wednesday indicated that this is one war he would like to avoid.

"I think this campaign is ultimately going to be about jobs, not dogs," Romney said in an interview with conservative radio host Bill Cunningham.


The roots of the dog war go way back to 1983, when Romney took the family dog Seamus on a trip to Canada locked inside his carrier--which was strapped to the roof of their car.

The incident has provided grist to Democrats and columnists to attack the former Massachusetts governor's character and to paint him as cruel toward animals. There's even an organization called Dogs Against Romney. It's an issue that won't die. As recently as Monday night, ABC aired an interview in which Diane Sawyer asked the Romneys about the incident, but Ann Romney insisted "the dog loved it."

In January, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod tweeted a photo of Obama riding along with his dog, Bo, sitting next to him in the back of his car in the presidential motorcade. He said it was the way "loving owners" transport their dogs. 

Now, the shoe may be on the other paw. A number of conservative political websites on Tuesday night homed in on a section of Obama's memoir, Dreams From My Father, in which he described eating dog with his stepfather in Indonesia when he was a child.

The right-leaning Daily Caller website pointed out this passage from the book:

“With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy). Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share.”

Conservative sites Hot Air and Fox Nation had picked up the excerpt as well on Tuesday night, although Fox took its post down. The excerpt quickly became fodder for a new Twitter hashtag, #obamadogrecipes. Within minutes of Hot Air's posting, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom had sent this tweet:

"In hindsight, a chilling photo RT @davidaxelrod: How loving owners transport their dogs" 


Cunningham asked Romney why the media focuses on the dog-on-the-roof incident instead of talking about “Barack Hussein Obama eating dogs in Indonesia." But Romney refused to throw him a bone.

Walt Cronkite contributed contributed to this article.

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