Getting the media to cover, say, the realism of a rival candidate's energy policy? That's not easy. Getting the media to cover the 1983 incident in which Mitt Romney stashed his dog Seamus on the roof of the family car for a Boston-Canada drive? Incredibly easy. The current wave of Seamentum* was caused by two tossed-off attacks. First, this video from the Gingrich campaign.
Then, this from Santorum's spokeswoman Alice Stewart.
Well, you know, the family dog is one [that] resonates with some people. If you can’t be nice to your dog, who are you going to be nice to?
A disclaimer: I like dogs. Medium-sized dogs, if you've got them. Is canine philia a reliable guide to a person's character? Let's ask our old pal the Association Fallacy.
Moving on, it turns out that Stewart is right. Public Policy Polling, which has a knack for this kind of question, asked a national sample of voters whether the dog story made them squeamish. It did. Voters think Romney was inhumane to his dog by a 29-20 margin, and the poll suggests that the number would go higher if the story spread; 68 percent of people say they'd never do what Romney did.
*Not sure if this works.