Primary Collars: Pets Get Political
For some candidates and voters, pets are crucial to the primary process.
To show the voters their human side, some Republican Primary candidates are including pets and farm animals on their campaign stops.
On a visit to Bluffton, S.C. last week, for one example, Texas Gov. Rick Perry showed support for Beauregard, a rescue dog.
In an e-mail message, Perry said he loves all animals, though he conceded he’s not so partial to guinea pigs. His Twitter photo shows Perry with a puppy on his shoulder.
In New Hampshire, which held its Primary on Jan. 10, WMUR, the state’s only television station, profiled Izak, the “Presidential Picking Goat” that followed former Utah Gov. John Huntsman. The goat didn’t pick the winner this time, though, as Huntsman dropped out of the race Jan. 16.
Also, in December, Newt Gingrich launched a Pets website. He doesn’t own a dog now but reportedly has vowed to buy one (maybe, a Lab) if voters install him in the White House. Meanwhile, the website describes his youthful ambition to work in a zoo and invites people to send in their pets’ photos. The site shows pictures of dogs and cats with captions that claim the animals are throwing their weight behind the former Speaker.
But are they really?
Gingrich’s campaign did not return any calls about the Pets site, leaving hanging one question. Are these dogs and cats merely parroting their owners’ choices?
Or do the animals hold their own political opinions?
Before answering, consider the unusual case of Mr. Bean and Tortie, both 13 1/2 and born from the same Rochester, N.Y. litter. They have lived their entire lives with the same family yet have climbed on opposite sides of the political fence.
He’s a Republican, and she’s probably a Democrat, according to their owner, photographer Allegra Boverman.
Boverman, who admits being slightly baffled by Mr. Bean’s extreme allegiances, said her suspicions about her cat’s politics started back in 1998 when he could not take his eye off the television every time Kenneth Starr, the Clinton-era special prosecutor, appeared.
“We noticed he was paying close attention to the television when he (Starr) was on,” she said. “It was this Clinton era thing that set him off. He got exposed at any early age, and he was really strident when he was young.”
She and husband Steve Bradt decided their Starr struck Mr. Bean hoped to go to Washington and work on investigations. They imagined him hopping a train to D.C. with a little suitcase and expecting Starr to hire him as assistant. Around this time, Mr. Bean, whose full name is Floyd L. Bean, toyed with adding the title Esquire. He also started a blog, answering his fans’ questions. Amanda Laughtland of Seattle said she has followed Mr. Bean for years on social media, first on Livejournal and now over Facebook.
“I have known him through Allegra’s photos with their accompanying captions,” she said over e-mail. “During the campaign season and at election times especially, he always admonishes voters to get to the polls,” she said.
Up to then, the couple hoped they could have been mistaken about their cat’s politics, Boverman said, but over the years they witnessed more unmistakable signs that Mr. Bean just loves Republicans.
“He’s very attached to Dick Cheney,” she said. During the 2004 Vice-Presidential debates between Cheney and John Edwards, Mr. Bean stayed glued to the television.
And earlier, after the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Bean listened intently whenever reporters mentioned Cheney’s “secure location.” The cat has a habit of turning one ear inside out when he’s anxious to hear something, she said. They also noticed he started developing some of his own secure locations around their Nashua apartment.
“He does adore him,” she said. “He also is a fan of Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor,” she said. Mr. Bean also reveres Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, and retired Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, she said.
“Also, he was pleased when the ‘Smaller Govern-mint’ and ‘I hate the French Vanilla’ ice cream flavors came out some years ago,” she said.
Mr. Bean’s sister, Tortie, is less opinionated, but probably prefers liberal Democrats. She shows her political colors by sitting exclusively on the family’s blue couch (in honor of the Democratic Party’s blue states) and walking the living room perimeter, if necessary, to avoid the red couch.
Tortie also watches the television when a Democrat is winning an important election. Has she been known to march out of the room when the Republican won? Maybe, Boverman said, but she can’t quite remember a specific time.
“She’s either apolitical or liberal,” she said.
Mr. Bean, who still tends to be “stiff and standoffish in a weird way and bristling and uptight,” has become more moderate with age. Although he has seldom left the red couches, he has recently tried out the blue couches.
“Mr. Bean was right wing, but he’s mellowed with age,” she said. “He did not like the Tea Party. He had no use for Michele Bachmann.”
But overall, with so many Republicans descending on the Granite State, he was in his glory all summer long.
Boverman almost took him to see the candidates at a “meet and greet” down the block from their home. In the weeks leading up to the New Hampshire Primary, one contender after another – Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum – dropped by the Hollis Pharmacy and General Store to talk to voters. The store has a pet department, so Mr. Bean would have been welcome, she said.
Mr. Bean is a former Santorum supporter from the days when the family lived in Pennsylvania. Lately, he has focused on Romney because of his name “Mitt,” which some people mistakenly believe stands for “Mittens.” Mr. Bean, of course, knows Romney’s proper name is Willard Mitt Romney, but he still liked the mittens (rhymes with kittens) connection, she said.
When Romney won the New Hampshire Primary, Mr. Bean was pleased about voter turnout, she said. But he’s feeling a letdown now that the spotlight has moved to South Carolina and left the Granite State in the shadows.
“He feels a little sad,” Boverman said. “But he’s very focused on voting. He will snap right back into ‘Get out the vote’ mode.”
Pictured: Floyd Bean Esq. (Mr. Bean, to his friends and admirers) is feeling a bit of a letdown now that the political spotlight has moved away from New Hampshire, but he will keep working to get out the vote. (Photo Credit: Allegra Boverman)
What do you think about politicians with pets? Do you consider animal rights when voting? Tell us your thoughts below!
3 years ago
Well I have always thought about this is with republicans the rich just get richer and avreage lower middle class people like myself get to the point where we are just barley scraping by as for democrats they seem to do a better job on saving money for the people who need it and giving them the money that they need Skitters and Shorty both told me they think that they should give more money to animal rescues and humane sociteys that actually need the money such as rescued paws or Via Lobos.
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