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Dogs well positioned in 2020 US presidential race

The couple's two dogs have their own Twitter account with nearly 70,000 followers.

FILE: US first lady Michelle Obama (2nd L), her daughters Sasha Obama (R) and Malia Obama and their family dogs, Bo and Sonny and tree growers Chris Botek (L) and Francis Botek of Lehighton, PA, walk out of the White House before receiving the White House Christmas Tree on the North Portico 28 November 2014 in Washington, DC. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON – It's impossible to say who will take on Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, but if he is defeated by a Democrat, it's likely that a dog will return to the White House after a multi-year absence.

Whether named Maple, Bailey, Champ or Skye, a dog appears to be a must-have accessory for Democratic candidates seeking to take on Trump, who stands out from his predecessors for, among other reasons, not having a pet.

From the third minute of the speech launching his campaign on 14 April, Democratic phenomenon Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of the city of South Bend in the state of Indiana, brought his two dogs to the fore.

"I grew up in South Bend, in the same neighbourhood where Chasten (his husband) and I live today, with our two dogs, Buddy and Truman," Buttigieg said.

The couple's two dogs have their own Twitter account with nearly 70,000 followers.

CANINE PHOTO LINE

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also placed her golden retriever front and centre in her bid for America's highest office, putting the dog on the same footing as her husband.

"Today, I thought I'd bring the two guys in my life: Bruce and Bailey. If anyone wants to stay around and take a picture, I'll be here and we can do that, and Bailey will be out there with his own separate photo line," she said to delighted cheers from supporters.

Photos and videos show her bathing Bailey or taking selfies with the pooch.

Another Democratic hopeful, Beto O'Rourke, has two dogs, Artemis and Rosie, who are the stars of many family photos.

Among others vying for the presidency, Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio is accompanied by Bear and Buckeye, dogs he has referred to as "two of the best friends our family could have asked for."

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York bombarded her supporters with images of Maple, her goldendoodle, a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle.

NATIONAL DOGS IN POLITICS DAY

Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has a dog named Skye, which he featured in a video on Instagram in which he spoke with his arm around the pooch.

"Hi, I'm John Hickenlooper. This is my faithful dog Skye and I'm running for president," he said.

In a country where people celebrate "National Dogs in Politics Day," man's best friend sometimes plays a decisive role.

Accused of receiving illegal campaign contributions, California Senator Richard Nixon defended himself in a television and radio address before 60 million Americans on 23 September 1952.

He assured them that he had accepted only a single gift - a dog for his children named Checkers.

Thus, managing to strike an emotional chord with the country, Nixon saved his candidacy, and the "Checkers Speech" went down in history.

On the other hand, any failure can be expensive in the politico-canine era.

During elections in 2008 and 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was reproached for a dark episode dating from 1983.

In June of that year, the Romney family travelled over 1,000 kilometers from Massachusetts to Canada, with their Irish setter strapped onto the roof rack.

Despite the installation of a windshield aimed at protecting Seamus, the dog suffered diarrhoea.

Returning to the 2020 race, of all the dogs in the running, Major and Champ are in the lead, with their master former vice president Joe Biden the current Democratic frontrunner.

The Biden couple's dogs could then potentially succeed Bo and Sunny - the Obama family's Portuguese water dogs - in the White House.

Before Barack Obama, presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all had dogs.

Both generations of Bush presidential families also had dogs: Barney and Miss Beazley, George W. Bush's Scottish terriers, even had a website, Barney.gov.

Sully, George HW Bush's Labrador service dog, accompanied the former president's casket to Washington, where his funeral was held in December.

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