GEORGETOWN, SC -- As many may know, Newt Gingrich is an animal lover. But Sunday night he appeared doubtful that one of his Republican rivals enjoys the furry friends as much.
“I am a big pet lover, yes,” the former House Speaker told reporters today in the Palmetto State. “I actually think it is fun to have animals. I think it is fun to like your pet enough to actually be near them.”
These comments came after Gingrich was asked to comment on Mitt Romney’s treatment of his dog a few years back – Romney reportedly put his family dog, Seamus, in a cage affixed to the top his car while traveling with his family on a vacation.
“Well, I just would rather not have been in a kennel all the way to Canada, personally,” Gingrich said at the Land’s End Restaurant after a town-hall event.
The Speaker notably did not discuss Romney by name during either of his events today and only did so when asked by reporters.
The Gingrich campaign released a web video just last week, "For the Dogs,” that dug up this controversial topic from the last campaign cycle and included it in a montage of “moderate Mitt’s greatest hits.”
Several weeks ago, Gingrich himself even launched a website dedicated to animals: petswithnewt.com. He has also on several occasions frequented zoos throughout the country.
While some did chuckle at the question posed to the Speaker this afternoon, Gingrich agreed that Romney’s treatment of his family pet adds to the narrative about the former Massachusetts governor.
“I think there are many characteristics that come out in the course of a presidential campaign from the use of words like ‘I like firing people’ which didn’t mean he liked firing people but he said “I liked firing people’ which sounds like I liked firing people even though it wasn’t…. to putting a dog on the top of a car for 9 hours,” Gingrich said. “I mean all these different things paint a picture, all of us have pictures and the Governor has to figure out whether or not that picture is electable. I wouldn’t want to debate Barack Obama with that in my background.”
Gingrich and Romney will participate in the next GOP debate Monday night in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – the first time they have shared the stage together since Romney’s commanding win in the New Hampshire primary last week.