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Politicians Use Family Dogs

Updated on September 16, 2016
Dogs can influence elections.
Dogs can influence elections. | Source

This hub was written during the 2008 presidential campaign, but it is still relevant today as the way people treat their pets can inspire confidence or outrage in the voting populace. How do you think people would vote today for a person who is not nice to their dog? We have fond memories of Socks at the White House, but people are not so happy to hear about how Mitt Romney made Shamus ride on the top of his truck, or how Lyndon B. Johnson picked his dog up by the ears. The way you treat your pet can say a lot about you as a candidate and as a person. Thus, what some consider as an example of Mitt Romney cool under pressure attitude by hosing his dog off after he made a mess, others consider being way too aloof when it comes to the needs of others.

In this hub, I am sharing some observations I have noted regarding politicians and the topics they use to win crowds over. A few months ago I was watching the late night news and I heard a clip from a speech by Barrack Obama. A young girl asked him what his daughters thought about him running for office. He replied that his daughter was worried he would not win, but he thinks that his daughters just do not want to move. Also, he shared with the audience that his daughter's main concern was his promise to get them a puppy at the end of the campaign. As I was listening to this it sounded so familiar, it sounded like something Richard Nixon said back in 1952.

The Checkers Speech:

In September of 1952 Richard Nixon was a California Senator running for Vice President on the Republican ticket. Nixon stated that people were worried he had taken eighteen thousand dollars in campaign contributions for his own use. Nixon goes on the record in this speech to declare that he did not use this money for his household and that his wife is not a big spender. He states that the one thing his family got as a campaign donation was a cockerspaniel named Checkers, and that his family was not going to give the dog up because his six year old daughter loved the pet. This illustrates how politicians use pets and family to pull at our heartstrings on a continual basis

Then and Now:

Let me point out that there are many differences between Obama and Nixon. Obama was the Democratic Presidential candidate and the Nixon was a Republican Vice Presidential candidate in 1952. However, it is interesting to note that Nixon and Obama have used many similar themes in their speeches, which just goes to show that even if politicians reinvent themselves they always use the tried and true strategies. Like Obama, Nixon pointed out many lives had been lost in the Korean War and how the Truman administration wasted taxpayer dollars. Obama and other politicians have also pointed out that Americans are losing the war in Iraq and even John McCain has gone on the record saying that we may be there for over a hundred years before peace is secure. The irony about the Iraq War is we are astounded by the four thousand American causalities over the last five years, but the Korean War resulted in over thirty-six thousand causalities in three years. The Korean War has become a forgotten war over the years, but this hub is mostly focusing on what politicians say to win people over. The Korean War truly deserves more attention and I plan to write a hub about that in the future. Nixon then and Obama now both realize that many people are frustrated and annoyed with the use of tax payer dollars in wars that seem to be going nowhere, so they both capitalized upon the opportunity to mention this in political speeches. Most people will think I am comparing Nixon to Obama, but this is not the case. I just think it is interesting to point out how politicians say similar things in speeches.

Obama was a strong presidential candidate who used comments about family to further support that image. Nixon also talked about his family to show voters his "softer side". In the case of Nixon there was pressure to replace him as the Vice Presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, but the "Checkers Speech" helped to bolster his image as the frugal running mate of Dwight Eisenhower. Obama was much more ethical politician than Nixon ever was, but just like his predecessor he has disclosed his financial records. Obama also wants people to see him as a politician who will spend tax payer dollars wisely. It is interesting to note that Obama was the only presidential candidate who published his financial records during the 2008 Presidential campaign, especially since many more presidential/vice presidential candidates used to disclose their financial records in the past. It is fascinating to see how politicians can be so different, and yet say many similar things in political speeches.

Barack Obama was the Democratic candidate for President and I am glad he won the election. Now that Obama is in the White House he has done several really great things for his daughters Malia and Sasha, such as solidifying plans to adopt a dog and having swing set put in for the girls. Obama has expressed his intent to make the White House more of a family oriented atmosphere, and these additions are great movements in that direction. It will be interesting to see the new politicians and family dogs that come on the scene in the future.

Do you like a politician if he/she has a dog?

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    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Hi Didge,

      I wrote this hub four years ago, but it still holds true. To some extent owning a dog can win people over and create the image of being a humanitarian person. In other cases how you treat your pet can turn people off, such as the story from 1983 about how Mitt Romney made his dog Shamus ride on the top of his car, and how LBJ lifted his dog by the ears. Then and now many are angered about how politicians have treated their pets, who many consider to be part of the family.

    • Didge profile image

      Didge 5 years ago from Southern England

      What an excellent hub: Many thanks for sharing.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thanks for sharing and commenting mindless brute!

    • TheMindlessBrute profile image

      TheMindlessBrute 8 years ago from Orlando,Florida


      Politics and political campaigns,as you point out are not above using what works to get elected.This is actually a great example of the evolution collectivism and propaganda(public relations) that increases in efficiency every year.Aldous Huxley predisted this in an excellent interview with Mike Wallace in the early 60's.Great hub!

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      When I heard Obama telling a little girl during a political speech that he planned on getting his children a dog, I just knew this sounded so familiar. I am not saying that Obama is purposely copying what other politicians have said, but we have all heard about politicians using their family and pets to create a domestic image for voters. Even writers have subconsiously used other writers ideas in books without realizing it, so I think politicians do the same thing from time to time. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      JPPI-Stuart 10 years ago

      Interesting Hub, it provides an intriguing comparison. I've considered both factors before (family more so than dogs, though), but using the Obama-Nixon comparison was a great way of highlighting these tactics.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thanks for making nice comments on my hubs kaliya.

    • kaliya profile image

      kaliya 10 years ago

      nice hub