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In 2007, the Boston Globe published a profile of American politician Mitt Romney in which he stated that he once took a 12 hour road trip with his family dog, Seamus, strapped in a dog carrier to the roof of their station wagon. At the time, the story was covered by TIME, ABC News and CNN. That year, a special interest group called Dogs Against Romney was formed, which gained more than 50,000 fans on Facebook as of April 2012.
On January 30th, 2012 David Axelrod, the President’s former senior advisor, posted a photo of Barack Obama and his dog Bo to his personal twitter account with the caption “How loving owners transport their dogs,” juxtaposing this photo with Romney’s road trip.
How loving owners transport their dogs.bit.ly/xGeJuZ— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) January 30, 2012
On April 17th, 2012, political blog The Daily Caller posted an excerpt from President Obama’s biography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance where he talks about eating dog meat as a child with his stepfather Lolo Soetoro. Twitter users also began using the hashtag #ObamaDogRecipes to poke fun at the President’s past culinary choices. Additionally, political consultant and strategist for the Romney campaign Eric Fehrnstrom retweeted Axelrod’s earlier photo, adding in that it was “chilling.”
In hindsight, a chilling photo RT
<a href="https://twitter.com/davidaxelrod">davidaxelrod</a>: How loving owners transport their dogs. <a href="http://t.co/KC9u3GSy" title="http://bit.ly/xGeJuZ">bit.ly/xGeJuZ</a></p>— Eric Fehrnstrom (EricFehrn) April 18, 2012
News of these tweets broke on ABC news that night, followed by the Daily Beast the Washington Examiner and the Huffington Post within the first day. Over the next several days, the story was covered on the International Business Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, political blog Hot Air and Politico.
Search for “Obama” and “dog” reflects when the President adopted a second-chance dog named Bo. However, in April 2012, search picked up, corresponding with search for “obama ate dog.”
Boston Globe – Raising sons, rising expectations bring unexpected turns (archive)
Washington Post – Obama, Romney dog fight: Carney and McCain enter the fray
The Christian Science Monitor – Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama: Who gets the dog owners vote?