Even Pets Help Presidential Candidates Voters like a Leader Who's Kind to Animals

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- If George W. Bush wins the election, he won't be the only new White House occupant with a presidential pedigree.

Meet Spot Fetcher Bush, the Texas governor's English springer spaniel, daughter of George and Barbara Bush's famous Millie. The younger Bush also has two cats, including six-toed Ernie.

Should Vice President Al Gore win, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would be home to Daisy, a mixed breed partial to flower beds, and Shiloh, a black Labrador retriever named for the Tennessee town, site of a Civil War battle.

Tough-talking Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan has a 14-year-old cat named Gipper. He "brings out Pat's softer side," said campaign spokesman Neil Bernstein, who often sees the brown cat perched on Buchanan's lap during staff meetings at the former Republican's home.

Kissing babies and petting puppies has often softened a political image. President Clinton has been known to arrange Kodak moments with the current first pets, Buddy the dog and Socks the cat.

This election's Democratic and Republican contenders could do the same. After all, the pets in both families have their touching tales.

Gore's son Albert found Daisy during a family vacation to Center Hill Lake in Tennessee. The family called her Inspector Turnip, until Tipper regularly found her sleeping in the daisies and gave her a new name.

Daisy, a gray and white mutt, now lives at the vice president's residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory as does Shiloh.

The Bushes also took in a stray, Ernie, an orange and white kitten that Spot found in a tree. The name comes from Ernest Hemingway, the author who had a cat with six toes, like the kitten. …