Why do Republicans hate puppies?

Add another to the list of Republican presidential candidates who have dog problems in their or their families' past.

Published December 18, 2007 12:25AM (EST)

You know your friend who says he's moving to Canada if Candidate X gets elected? Well, if a Republican wins in November, it's your dog who's going to be fleeing the country. In fact, all three of the current frontrunners for the Republican nomination have at least one incident in their personal and/or family histories that will make Fido more frightened than that time you brought the vacuum cleaner too close to his tail.

The latest revelation of GOP dog abuse came from Newsweek, which recently reported that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's son, David Huckabee, lost his job as a Boy Scout camp counselor in 1998, when he was 17, for killing a stray dog by hanging it from a tree. Marcal Young, the camp executive who fired Huckabee, told the Arkansas Times-Gazette that the hanging was a violation of the Scout law, "A Scout is kind." It was also a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 and 12 months in prison. John Bailey, then-director of the Arkansas State Police, told Newsweek that a local prosecutor asked him to investigate, but that the governor's chief of staff and personal lawyer both pressured Bailey to keep away. According to Young, David said he was trying to put a sick stray out of its misery. Or, as Mike Huckabee said, "There was a dog that apparently had mange and was absolutely, I guess, emaciated." (Since 1998, David Huckabee has avoided further dog killings, though he was arrested recently for attempting to bring a loaded .40 caliber Glock through airport security.)

Rudy Giuliani's wife, Judith, also has some puppy skeletons in her closet. In 1975, shortly after becoming a registered nurse, she began working for U.S. Surgical Corp., selling medical staplers to doctors. The sales pitch involved demonstrating the staplers on anaesthetized dogs. "A dead dog doesn't bleed," said U.S. Surgical CEO Leon Hirsch in a 1988 Time Magazine article, when asked why the demonstrations required live dogs. "You need to have real blood-flow conditions, or you get a false sense of security." The dogs were euthanized after the demonstrations.

But the dog story that's now the race's classic comes from the campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was actually proud of this story, which his own family apparently gave the Boston Globe as an example of his cool, calm decision making. It seems that back in the early 1980's, Romney was taking his family on a vacation to Canada. It was a 12-hour drive, and he had his five little sons in the car, so he strapped his Irish Setter's crate to the roof with the dog inside, then told his kids -- one of whom was about three-years-old at the time -- that he had planned all the stops they'd be making and there wouldn't be any additional bathroom stops. There was one unplanned stop, though, when they noticed a brown fluid flowing down the back windshield. Some might take this as a sign that their dog was terrified, but not Romney. He had something of a different reaction, according to the Globe: "Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus [the dog] 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." It was also probably a violation of Massachusetts animal cruelty laws, according to Time Magazine. "It is common sense that any dog who's under extreme stress might show that stress by losing control of his bowels," said Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA. "That alone should have been sufficient indication the dog was, basically, tortured."

By Ben Van Heuvelen

Ben Van Heuvelen is a journalist living in Brooklyn.

MORE FROM Ben Van Heuvelen

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2008 Elections Mike Huckabee Mitt Romney Noble Beasts Rudy Giuliani War Room