Time's Mark Halperin Urges Newt to Trash Romney's Treatment of Pets
It might seem a little odd for Time magazine to promote Newt Gingrich in any way. But that's what they did on The Page blog on Sunday as they tried to make trouble for Mitt Romney on the 1983 dog-in-a-car-carrier scandal. "In [a] Georgetown, SC colloquy with Mark Halperin, Gingrich says Romney's dog-on-a-car-roof incident would be an electability issue versus President Obama." They added a link. "Bonus: Watch Gingrich's two daughters talk about high-school-aged Newt's brave attempt to rescue his dog, Pride."
As Time senior political analyst Mark Halperin tried to goad Gingrich into trashing Romney on his car trip to Canada with his Irish setter, Gingrich first professed shock that Halperin would ask such a rude question, and then energetically trashed Romney: "I think that it's fun to like your pet enough to actually be near them." A reporter less interested in bringing down Mitt over his loyalty to a dog would ask Newt a followup about his first two wives.
HALPERIN: You're a big pet lover, animal lover.
GINGRICH: I am a big pet lover, yes.
HALPERIN: So this issue of electability, for a lot of voters is a serious issue — I'm not kidding — Gov. Romney once putting his family dog on the roof of the car and taking him on a long trip. Do you object to that treatment of animals that way and do you think that's an electability issue as well?"
GINGRICH: I can't believe you came up with that question, a man of your sophistication, your deep understanding of American politics. All I'll tell you is I know an amazing number of pet lovers. Both my daughters, for example, have dogs. My sister is a big cat person, etc... I think you can go out — why don't you go interview ten dog lovers and ask them their reaction?
HALPERIN: I have. A lot of them think it's a really bad thing.
GINGRICH: Well, I think that gives you sort of a general answer, doesn't it?
HALPERIN: Well, what do you think of it?
GINGRICH: Well, I just, you know, I'd rather not have been in the kennel all the way to Canada. Personally doesn't strike me as a very good thing to have done. But that's just my personal bias, you know. But then, as an army brat, we used to have a Doberman Pinscher who rode in the car with us a lot. That has a different set of challenges. But, I love animals and I'm, you know, I'm on the opposite team. I actually think it's fun to have animals. I think that it's fun to like your pet enough to actually be near them.
HALPERIN: But, again, it's a serious question. Some people think that it's part of a portrait of Gov. Romney that would make him vulnerable in a general election. Do you see it as that important an issue or no?
GINGRICH: I think that there are many characteristics that come out in the course of a presidential campaign. From the use of words, like 'I like firing people' — which didn't mean he liked firing people but he said, 'I like firing people,' which sounds like I like firing people even though it wasn't — to putting a dog on the top of a car for nine hours. All these different things paint a picture. All of us have pictures. And the governor has to figure out whether or not that picture is electable. I wouldn't want to debate Barack Obama with that in my background.
Team Romney has tried to exploit the issue of "electability" to try to run every other Republican candidate off the road, instead of letting voters decide on policy substance and political consistency. But it's amazing that Gingrich can commit serial adultery and thinks that's less damaging to electability than a bad car trip.