Whoever is inaugurated president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017, will be the most powerful person in the world, and every member of his or her family will live under a microscope for the four years that follow.
That goes for four-legged family members, too.
There is, of course, a long pedigree of presidential pets. Ronald and Nancy Reagan were avid pet lovers and owned many dogs over the course of their marriage. The two who accompanied them to the White House were Lucky and Rex. President George H.W. Bush brought along his dog, Milly, the first presidential dog to publish a book, and her puppy Ranger, the president’s “favorite” dog.
Bill Clinton had Buddy the chocolate lab and Socks the cat. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton made a trip alone to Martha’s Vineyard. At the time, Hillary Clinton said, “Buddy, the dog, came along to keep Bill company. He was the only member of our family who was still willing to.”
George W. Bush had three dogs: Spot, Barney and Miss Beazley. President Obama has two Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Bo.
Clearly, there must be some connection between pets and winning the White House, because every single president in history has had some kind of pet (even Richard Nixon had Checkers, a cocker spaniel, before he became president). We’ve had presidential dogs, cats, birds, horses, ponies, goats, tiger cubs, alligators, bear cubs, a bobcat, a ram, snakes, a zebra, and many others. But the common denominator is most definitely a family dog.
So what does the full 2016 presidential field have to boast in terms of pets? Some pretty adorable dogs, cats, and even fish, as it turns out. Given that every president had a pet, some candidates might be in trouble if they don’t have any at all.
It seems these little Democrats and Republicans are in a race of their own — who will be the next First Pet?
Carly Fiorina has jumped up in the polls recently after the first GOP debate. Her two Yorkshire terriers, Max and Snickers, could be the boost she needs to take on Donald Trump.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign wouldn’t comment on whether she had a pet. Perhaps the information will be found on her deleted email servers. Clinton also wrote a book while she was in the White House about her two pets, entitled, “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets.” When Buddy died in 2002, the Clintons got another chocolate lab named Seamus in 2005.
Jeb Bush had a black lab, Marvin, named ironically after his younger brother, Marvin Bush. Marvin the dog made his way into a few of Jeb Bush’s campaign commercials when Jeb was running for governor of Florida. However, Marvin passed away during George W. Bush’s presidency.
Sen. Marco Rubio has four children and a dog, Manna. Who knows? This young Florida family could find a new home and bring little Manna to Washington, D.C.
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson has a German shepherd named Echo.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Florida has a cute little dog, Snowflake, a pet that’s adored by his young daughters. Snowflake is clearly hoping to float down onto the South Lawn.
Former Gov. Rick Perry is another Texan well-known for his love of dogs, especially to those who follow him on Twitter. His family has two dogs, Lucy and Dutch, and two granddogs, Scout and Rory. Perry sometimes brings his pups out on the campaign trail with him.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania has been out in Iowa working hard for a repeat of 2012. His family dog, a German shepherd puppy named Darcy, is the newest addition to the Santorum family. Darcy is clearly one of the cutest campaign puppies around.
Mike Huckabee did have a dog he loved dearly, named Jet. Unfortunately, Jet passed away just two years ago at 14. When he died, Huckabee said, “He got up when I got up, and went to bed when I went to bed, however early, however late. Good dogs are loyal. In politics I’ve found that few people are really and totally loyal. Dogs are.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s family only has fish right now, but his son Slade catches the occasional frog. It has also been confirmed that the Jindal family will be looking into getting another pet when they move out of the Governor’s Mansion.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has a dog named Rex and a cat named Sebastian. O’Malley conceivably could become the next Democratic president to have one dog and one cat.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki has two dogs, Balto and Bradley. However, he also has horses, cattle, and chickens out on his farm. Looks like Pataki could be putting a stable up behind the White House if he moves in.
While former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore doesn’t have any pets currently, he had a dog, Sparky, who passed away a few years ago.
Another candidate, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, has one cat, Athena, and one dog, Mickey. Seems to be a pattern with Democrats to have a cat and a dog.
The No Pet Club
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey does not have any pets, but for good reason. A number of his children are allergic to animals. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is also reportedly allergic, so his family doesn’t have any either. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also is petless.
The other candidates, including Donald Trump, did not respond to repeated inquiries, perhaps deciding that their pets, if they have any, were not quite ready for their 2016 campaign close-up.