Even During WWII, Dogs Mattered in Campaigns
America faced challenges even more urgent in 1944, when President Roosevelt was running for re-election against his Republican opponent Thomas Dewey.
President Roosevelt’s dog was a Scottish Terrier that he named Murray the Outlaw of Falahill, and nicknamed Fala. The rumor at the time, spread by Republicans, was that the dog had accidentally been left on one of the Aleutian islands during a presidential visit — and that Roosevelt had ordered a Navy destroyer to retrieve the stranded pooch at great expense to the treasury.
On September 23, 1944, Roosevelt immortalized the kerfuffle by addressing it during a nationally broadcast radio speech:
These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family don’t resent attacks — but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I’d left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him — at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or 20 million dollars — his Scotch soul was furious. (laughter) He has not been the same dog since.(laughter) I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself — such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog!
Dewey foolishly tried to respond with a point by point rebuttal of Roosevelt’s speech, prompting the Democratic National Committee to put out a statement declaring the election “between Roosevelt’s dog and Dewey’s goat,” and Roosevelt himself wrote in a private letter soon after, “I deliberately wrote out a speech with the objective in mind of making Governor Dewey angry. It worked.” (The Atlantic)
» More on the Fala speech