The story that continues to dog Mitt RomneyJanuary 9, 2012 7:14 PM
One of the enduring stories about Mitt Romney involves the time, back in 1983, when his family drove from Boston to a cottage in Grand Bend, Ont., with the family dog, Seamus, in a carrier strapped to the roof of a Chevy station wagon.
The reporter who uncovered that tidbit, Neil Swidey of the Boston Globe, is revisiting the issue, having refrained from writing about it since he published it as part of a feature on Romney five years ago.
"I dread the thought that Seamus might somehow make it into the lead paragraph of my eventual obituary," Swidey wrote in a recent article for the Globe.
But he says he's wading in again because the anecdote sheds some light on the enigmatic Romney. And, with another primary season upon us, and another Romney campaign for his party's nomination, the anecdote keeps resurfacing in the media.
Swidey writes that in the time since he wrote the story, there have been a number of exaggerations about the incident swirling around. For one, that Romney attached the Irish setter to the roof of the car with nothing more than a rope. (The pooch was in a carrier with a specially fashioned windshield.)
Swidey also writes that critics of the incident have focused on the wrong issue. It's not that Romney strapped the family pet to the car - something, the Romneys swear the dog enjoyed. But that at one point during the trip, Seamus had a bout of diarrhea, which could be seen running down the rear window.
Romney pulled up to a gas station, washed off the car, and returned the dog to the rooftop carrier.
"What is beyond debate," Swidey says, "is that this far into this particular trip, Seamus had ceased enjoying his ride."
Swidey said he believes the anecdote offers a "valuable window" into how Romney operates.
"In everything the guy does, he functions on logic, not emotion."