WASHINGTON -- A canine named Seamus with a Canadian connection is causing Mitt Romney problems in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
The tale of poor Seamus, the Irish setter who infamously spent 12 hours in the 1980s strapped to the roof of the Romney family station wagon on a road trip from Massachusetts to Grand Bend, Ont., will not die.
A new report suggests Seamus, who soiled himself during his stint in the rooftop crate, ran for the hills when the Romneys finally arrived at the family's Lake Huron cottage. Some wags have suggested it was an attempt to seek asylum in Canada and avoid the hellish return trip back to Boston.
Politicker, the political blog for the New York Observer newspaper, reports two of Romney's sons have told reporters off the record the dog ran away when they reached their destination in the summer of 1983.
It was unclear if he ever returned, and there has been no response from the Romney campaign to repeated requests for comment on the story. Jane Romney, Mitt Romney's sister, has long insisted Seamus ended up living to a "ripe old age" on her farm in California, where he once served as a loving caregiver to a litter of kittens.
Yet he has not gone gently into that good night. Seamus's ordeal on the roof of the station wagon almost 30 years ago continues to -- ahem -- dog the Romney campaign.
New York Times columnist Gail Collins rarely writes about Romney without mentioning Seamus. Newt Gingrich included Seamus in an attack ad against his rival in South Carolina.
Chief White House strategist David Axelrod tweeted a photo this week of U.S. President Barack Obama's dog, Bo, in the back of the presidential limo with the commander-in-chief, with the caption: "How loving owners transport their dogs." The tweet likely means the Obama campaign has no intention of letting Seamus rest in peace if Romney is the eventual Republican nominee.
There's a blog and a Facebook page entitled Dogs Against Romney that are gaining supporters daily. A photo posted to the blog on Thursday features a doctored Romney quote: "I'm not really concerned about the poor, or the furry" and urges reader to "Join My Super Pack."
The site sells merchandise, including T-shirts and bumper stickers, showing dogs sitting inside vehicles with the slogan: "I ride inside." Others read simply: "Remember Seamus."
A comment posted Thursday on the group's Facebook wall neatly sums up the general tenor of the dog-lovers' sentiments: "I don't like this guy, Mitt Romney."
But perhaps the most ominous development is still looming on the Seamus front: late-night talk show icon David Letterman is apparently taking on Seamus's cause.
The show has a new segment entitled "What's Mitt Romney's Dog Tied To Today?" The first answer: The St. Louis Arch, a famous, 192-metre-tall monument in the Missouri city.
The captivating and chaotic Republican presidential race was briefly sidetracked by an almost farcical diversion Thursday, with conflicting reports about whether Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich was in line for the endorsement of Donald Trump, the American master of publicity. In the end, Trump went with Romney.
-- The Canadian Press / The Associated Press