Is Newt Gingrich Seamus -- er, shameless?
As the former House speaker fights for his campaign life in South Carolina, he’s pulled out all the stops to try and slow Mitt Romney down. He’s ripped Romney’s private-sector record as a venture capitalist. He’s hammered Romney’s work as Massachusetts governor. And now, he’s let the dog out.
Gingrich’s campaign has a new Web video out that highlights Romney’s missteps as a candidate. And much of the video is familiar stuff: the line earlier this week about liking “being able to fire people,” and that time in Iowa when he said “corporations are people.” But the capper is an excerpt from an interview in which Romney discusses the now-infamous episode back in the 1980s when he strapped the family dog, an Irish setter named Seamus, to the roof his car during an extended family trip to Canada.
The dog was kept in a “airtight kennel,” as Romney says in the interview, but, as the story goes, it wasn’t long before Seamus made his displeasure known the only way he could, by relieving himself. Romney calmly pulled into a service station, procured a hose to clean off the dog and family car, and proceeded on his merry way.
The anecdote, which first surfaced in a 2007 Boston Globe profile of Romney, was intended to convey his efficient, compartmentalized management style. But over time, it has morphed into something different. As per the Gingrich ad, here’s how Chris Wallace at Fox News explained his feelings:
WALLACE: I have a yellow Lab named Winston. 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?
ROMNEY: This is a completely airtight kennel, mounted on the roof of our car. 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.
The story has so famously entranced New York Times columnist Gail Collins that she has mentioned it in her work more than three dozen times. But until now, Romney’s rivals for the GOP nomination have stayed away from it.
Gingrich’s campaign says the video, titled “For the Dogs,” is only going to be posted to the web for now, but hasn’t ruled out putting up on TV in South Carolina at some point in advance of the Jan. 21 primary.
Oh, and for good measure, the video closes with Romney himself singing “Who Let the Dogs Out?"--our definition of must-see TV.