A trip Mitt Romney made in 1983 with his dog on the roof of the family car is at the center of a new attack ad.
(Image source: Seamus2012.com ) BY ZACH TOOMBS It’s an old -- and strange -- political tale that’s been dogging Mitt Romney for years. And now it’s at the center of an attack ad from Newt Gingrich . “This is a completely airtight kennel, mounted on the top of our car... We had five kids inside the car. My guess is he liked it a lot better in his kennel than he would have liked it inside.” The story was first reported in June of 2007 in The Boston Globe. The article says in 1983, Romney drove his wife and five young sons on a 12-hour trek from Boston to Ontario in the family’s station wagon. The dog came, too -- but with little space inside the car, Romney put his Irish setter named Seamus in a kennel and tied it to the roof. The Boston Globe reported not everything went according to plan... “[The oldest son, Tagg Romney] glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ‘Dad!’ he yelled. ‘Gross!’ A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who'd been riding on the roof in the wind for hours... Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway.” The Boston Globe called the incident an early example of one of Romney’s best-known traits -- his talent for emotion-free crisis management. But a columnist for The Hill sees it differently. “Emotion-free crisis management??! I love animals, especially dogs. ... I am told it is illegal in Massachusetts to put an animal on a car roof while driving. Had I been the local sheriff, I would have arrested him.” Online, the story is a viral hit, complete with a website dedicated to the incident and a version of the all-too-common “Hitler reacts” video . “Who cares if Seamus is an Irish setter and not a proud German Shepherd of the Reich? Dogs deserve better! Even those serving the Allies.” On a more serious note, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow thinks the dog story has serious potential for damaging Romney in this election cycle. “The reason this story has, forgive me, legs -- is because the idea of a presidential candidate as mean, as cold and unfeeling... that is something that can be a defining framework in a presidential election.” If the issue is hurting Romney politically, it certainly hasn’t shown. After winning in Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney’s spent the last few days campaigning in South Carolina -- where he leads the polls.