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How to win the presidential race

Even at this late hour, each presidential candidate still claims, “I have the ability to govern and bring the United States of America back to greatness again!”

Well and good. But such political rhetoric hasn’t worked. Why?

Because the winning key is still missing. The winning key? Yes. A dog.

I ask you: “Have you seen any pet stumping for any candidate during this current race?”

Before you scoff at or dismiss the question, stop and think of the many First Dogs of the past who helped their masters change history.

For example… Back in the mid-1940s, Fala, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s black Scottish terrier, turned the tide for his owner’s sagging popularity, all because of a single incident following a trip to Alaska where Fala accidentally was left behind.

The GOP’s runner, Thomas Dewey, pounced on that: “My opponent sent a warship to retrieve a dog! All at great taxpayer expense!”

Roosevelt fought back, “I’m used to malicious statements about myself, but I resent libelous statements against my dog!”

FDR subsequently was swept into office for an unprecedented fourth term.

Checkers, a cocker spaniel, rescued Richard Nixon’s tottering vice-presidential spot when he was accused of taking supporter money to finance his election. In his famous “Checkers” speech, Nixon said he didn’t use the money for personal expenses, but he did confess to keeping a specific, campaign gift - a dog - which he did not intend to return.

His reason?

“Our 6-year-old daughter, Tricia, named that dog Checkers. She loves him! He came in a crate - all the way from Texas. So regardless of what’s said about me, we’re gonna keep him.”

Resultant phone calls of support flooded headquarters, and Nixon stayed on the ticket.

How about Bill Clinton and his chocolate lab, Buddy? Daily media photos showed the two, plus First Cat Socks, walking around government grounds.

If Buddy’s influence helped Clinton - ditto with Obama’s Portuguese water dog Bo - into their second terms is debatable, but you can’t deny it’s a bit “too coincidental” in that the above presidents (plus others with dogs) were elected to second terms.

With one exception: Lyndon B. Johnson.

During his time in office, LBJ’s two beagles, Him and Her, captured voters’ attention. That is, until one memorable day - with the election looming and press photographers nearby recording the indelible scene - the President lifted up Him by the ears, claiming, “It’s good for him.”

Well! Shocked dog lovers throughout the country wrote, phoned and/or personally appeared in person to protest. Whether the negative response influenced LBJ’s decision in 1964 to not run for a second term is also still debatable.

The popularity of dogs influencing positive reaction is undeniable. Even the U.S. Postal Service features Snoopy, the beloved cartoon beagle, on a Forever Stamp - an obvious, yet unofficial “stamp of approval.”

Someone once said, “Anyone who loves dogs has to be honest and caring.”

A while back, The Washington Post revealed even the White House has used pets as PR props during times of political scandal and international tension.

Certainly this is such a time!

That said, here’s Isabel’s advice to those who want to know “How to Become President:”

“Dismiss your advisers and instead, be accompanied by ____.”(Insert your pet's name.)

There’s something about a dog’s caressing tongue licking you and soulful eyes riveted on you that makes voters subconsciously want to sweep you into the White House. (And, of course, it assures your beloved pet a First Dog status.)

There’s only one drawback to the above: No candidate has asked my advice.

Too bad.

©2016 Isabel Torrey. Torrey, a long-time columnist, lives in King City.