There's no other way to put it, Mitt and Ann Romney stepped in it in their first joint network TV interview.
They fielded lots of questions during the interview which aired last night, but none more pointed then the one animal lovers were waiting for from ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer:
So why did you strap your dog to the roof of the car?
Ann Romney defended her husband’s decision to put their dog, Seamus, in a crate and lash it to the roof for a 12-hour drive to Canada in 1983, saying he "loved it" and knew it meant he was going on vacation with the family.
“It was, to me, a kinder thing to bring him along than to leave him in the kennel for, in a kennel for two weeks,” she told Sawyer.
[We pause to ask ourselves two things, a) Why didn't they put some luggage on the roof and let Seamus ride inside? b) Do any of Ann Romney's $100k dressage horses ride in rusty and rickety livestock trailers exposed to elements? Ah, no.]
Asked if he do the same thing again, Mitt Romney said, “Certainly not with the attention it’s received.”
Wow. Clearly 30 years later, the Romneys still think it's ok for an animal to ride atop a car, at highway speeds no less. Not only that, they lashed out at their critics.
Ann Romney derided the nagging criticism as "crazy." This despite the fact the nation's leading humane organizations have labeled such car-top travel cruel. And don't forget Seamus did not even live out his life with the Romneys. Mitt Romney dumped his Irish Setter on his sister along the way.
As the Boston Globe, which first reported the story in a profile of Romney in 2007 ahead of the presidential campaign, put it:
The episode has become something of a measuring stick for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s human compassion, with critics saying it showed heartlessness and supporters disputing that or saying it shows Romney’s problem-solving ability.
The newspaper reports one Democrat has even promised a super PAC to raise money for ads to highlight the incident with Internet ads in 10 battleground states. And don't forget the relentlessly anti-Romney website: www.dogsagainstromney.org
In the interview, Sawyer went on to press the Romneys on the fact Seamus got sick during the ride, sending liquid down the side of the car. Mitt Romney pulled into a gas station and hosed down crate and dog and put them back on the roof. Ann Romney described it as an isolated incident.
“Once,” she said. “We traveled all the time, and he ate the turkey on the counter. I mean, he had the runs. But, he would see that crate and, you know, he would, like, go crazy, because he was going with us on vacation.”