(NEW YORK) — On Tuesday at noon, outside the Westminster dog show at Madison Square Garden, the group “Dogs Against Romney” will protest “to ensure pet lovers are aware that Mitt Romney is mean to dogs,” according to the group’s press release.
While it may seem silly to some, Democrats have every intention of making sure — if Romney wins the GOP nomination — that every voting American knows about the story of Romney putting his family dog Seamus in a kennel on top of his roof and driving from Boston to Canada, with said canine making his displeasure known in a rather scatological way. “I have a yellow Lab named Winston,” Fox News’ Chris Wallace said to Romney. “I would no sooner put him in a kennel on the roof of my car than I would one of my children. Question: What were you thinking?” “This is a completely airtight kennel, mounted on the roof of our car,” Romney replied. “He climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself. He was in a kennel at home a great deal of the time as well. We loved the dog. It was where he was comfortable.”
“When Seamus crapped all over the car I’m fairly certain he wasn’t expressing pleasure,” one top Democrat told ABC News. “Thirty-one million dog owners vote,” said another.
Democrats are still trying to figure out the best way to bring this up. Certainly it wouldn’t be done by President Obama or any top surrogates. But given the world of social media, not to mention shadowy third-party groups, there is no shortage of ways for Seamus Romney to become a household name.
The incident has been used by Newt Gingrich in a Web ad attacking Romney’s heralded electability, and top Democrats have every intention of pushing it into the American psyche. They feel, a la John Edwards’ $400 haircut, it says something about the man — namely that he’s “weird” and “heartless,” top Democrats say.
Ironically, the story of Seamus was first reported by the Boston Globe in a 2007 report profiling Romney as a problem-solver:
“Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family’s hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon’s roof rack. He’d built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.
“Then Romney put his boys on notice: He would be making predetermined stops for gas, and that was it.
“The ride was largely what you’d expect with five brothers, ages 13 and under, packed into a wagon they called the ‘white whale.’
“As the oldest son, Tagg Romney, commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ‘Dad!’ he yelled. “Gross!” A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.
“As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.” Saturday Night Live made reference to Seamus in a skit over the weekend. Lanny Davis wrote about it at The Huffington Post last month. New York Times columnist Gail Collins mentions Seamus so often that searching for his name in her column has become like hunting for NINAs in a Hirschfeld caricature. David Letterman references it quite a bit as well. And Axelrod tweeted a few days ago: “How loving owners transport their dogs,” along with a picture of President Obama and Bo riding together in the presidential car.
Democrats believe that in a swing election that could be decided by a whisker, the knowledge of the Seamus anecdote could be “ruff” on Romney.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio