‘Voters cannot get enough of dogs’: Why you’ll be seeing Elizabeth Warren’s pup more often
Call it the Bailey Bump.
Could Bailey, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s lovable golden retriever who appeared with her in Cambridge Monday when she announced the formation of an exploratory committee for an increasingly likely White House bid in 2020, become the candidate’s best friend on the stump?
At least one prominent Democratic consultant thinks so, and all signs from the committee point to Bailey remaining in the public eye.
“Stay tuned for Bailey appearances on the trail,” said a brief statement Wednesday from the exploratory committee.
If Team Warren views Bailey as a campaign asset, they’re certainly not barking up the wrong tree, according to Scott Ferson, a former aide to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
“Even if you’re not a fan of Elizabeth Warren, Bailey’s favorabilities are way higher than any politician’s,” said Ferson, now president and CEO of the Liberty Square Group, a busy Democratic-aligned PR agency in Boston.
Ferson noted that “everyone loves dogs. It humanizes, if you will, a candidate. Because we say that dogs are good judges of character.”
He recalled that Splash, Kennedy’s loyal Portuguese water dog, frequently shadowed the liberal Lion of the Senate in the Capitol.
“When Splash would come into the room first, you knew the senator was right behind,” Ferson said.
Bailey, of course, is not the first golden retriever to come into the lives of Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann.
The couple previously owned a retriever named Otis, who was a constant comfort to Warren during her initial entry several years ago into the rough-and-tumble world of Beltway politics. Otis was euthanized, after a long battle with lymphoma, days before Warren was first elected to the US Senate in 2012.
A 2012 column in the Globe described the relationship between Warren and Otis after the dog’s passing:
“Otis went to Washington with Warren during the depths of the financial crisis, and he loved it, not because it transformed his master into a national figure, but because their apartment building had elevators, meaning he didn’t have to negotiate any pesky stairs.
“He was with Warren in fall 2011 when she declared her campaign for the Senate. He was there as controversies flared, as accusations were leveled, as attack ads filled the airwaves. Polls rose and fell, criticisms alternated with compliments, but always there was Otis, blinking excitedly as Warren came through the door at the end of the day and always ready for a walk.”
Last July, Warren took to Instagram to announce that Bailey, then a puppy, had arrived on the scene.
“There’s a lot of pain and chaos in the world right now — we decided to bring a little gentleness and normalcy into our lives,” Warren wrote.
She added in a follow-up posting, after Bailey’s name had been chosen, “Bruce has had it with calling him “puppy” and “pooch” and other generic names. So we put together a long list. ... In the end, we named him after George Bailey, the community banker in It’s a Wonderful Life -- the guy who was decent, determined and, most of all, saw the best in people. I always thought the role of George Bailey was written for a Golden Retriever, although Jimmy Stewart did a nice job with it. So, in the hope that our Bailey will be as kind and loyal as the fictional George Bailey and as sweet as Irish Cream, we’ve settled on a name. Already, he seems to like it.”
But will he like the grind of a 2020 presidential campaign if Warren enters the Democratic primary as expected? More to the point, is he built for it?
The American Kennel Club offers some insight.
On its website, the club describes the golden retriever’s temperament as “Friendly, Intelligent, Devoted,” all pluses on any campaign rope line.
Plus retrievers take “a joyous and playful approach to life and maintain this puppyish behavior into adulthood,” the club says. “These energetic, powerful gundogs enjoy outdoor play. For a breed built to retrieve waterfowl for hours on end, swimming and fetching are natural pastimes.”
Sounds like high-octane retail politics won’t be a problem for this pooch, who wore a collar Monday that said “Consumer Watchdog,” an apparent reference to the key role Warren played in establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
And, Ferson said, no candidate ever has to worry about dog fatigue among voters.
“Voters cannot get enough of dogs,” he said. “However, there is a step too far: bringing a cat on the campaign trail.”