Hillary Clinton had 91% positive record on animal issues as U.S. Senator, according to Humane Scorecard
WASHINGTON D.C.––If personal history, campaign promises, and political affiliations pertaining to animal issues decided who would be elected U.S. President on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, Republican candidate Donald Trump would be at risk of suffering a shutout loss.
By contrast, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in October 2016 received the Humane Society Legislative Fund’s second-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate.
Humane Society Legislative Fund endorsement
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is the political arm of the Humane Society of the United States. While HSUS endorsed U.S. President Barack Obama in 2008, after Republican nominee John McCain selected former Alaska governor and avid hunter Sarah Palin as his running mate, the present HSUS leadership and generations of forebears have leaned Republican ever since the organization was founded in 1954.
Previous––and 2016––Humane Society Legislative Fund endorsements of candidates for other offices have been scattered among members of both major parties, and across the traditional left/right political spectrum.
Trump claims no humane endorsements
This is not surprising. Animal issues traditionally cut diagonally across the spectrum, with approximately equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats among the national institutional leadership and donor bases.
But unlike in past national elections, where candidates from both major parties have attracted some endorsements from animal advocacy organizations and leaders, ANIMALS 24-7 is unaware of any animal advocacy organization or leader of prominence who has endorsed Trump.
No animals in Trump entourage
Trump, if elected, would become the first successful presidential candidate since Harry Truman in 1948 without at least one pet.
Thirty-one of the 44 U.S. presidents through Barack Obama have had dogs, at least a dozen had cats, and according to a 2012 report by Current Edition, “Chester Arthur and Franklin Pierce were the only presidents who never owned pets during their White House years. One president, Millard Fillmore, didn’t own pets in the White House but was very active in animal protection causes and leadership roles in his home state of New York.”
“Grab them by the pussy”
Despite Trump’s remarks to the effect of “grab them by the pussy,” he is not known to have ever had a pet, even as a child––which may have led to one of his first post-nomination campaign faux pas. An official Trump campaign fact sheet “railed against the ‘Food and Drug Administration food police,’” reported Samantha Allen of the Daily Beast, “complaining that the agency ‘dictate[s] how the federal government expects farmers to produce fruits and vegetables and even dictates the nutritional content of dog food.’
“The FDA does indeed regulate pet food,” Allen noted, “but that’s for good reason. Eleven of the 23 pet food recalls by the FDA since September 2015 pulled chow off shelves due to food poisoned by listeria and salmonella.” Both are potentially lethal bacterial infections which could easily spread from sick pets to human pet keepers.
The fact sheet was soon withdrawn, and all but forgotten amid frequent more spectacular Trump missteps, including alleged racist and sexist remarks, denigrating military veterans and former prisoners of war, and mocking a handicapped journalist.
“In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” anthropologist Jane Goodall told James Fallows of The Atlantic. “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”
While Trump impersonated a sub-dominant chimpanzee seeking to gain status, and was often said to have made a jackass of himself, an animal used to symbolize the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton in May 2016 told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres that her “spirit animal” is an elephant, the animal talisman of the Republican Party.
“Clinton spoke with rare passion about the need to protect elephants from a poaching crisis that has killed at least 110,000 of them over the past decade, pushing the world’s largest land animals – especially forest elephants – closer to extinction,” wrote Jeremy Hance of The Guardian.
Said Clinton, “I love the way…the matriarch of the family looks for everybody, I just have such a sense of connection to elephants and it just breaks my heart that they are being poached and murdered and babies being left to fend for themselves.”
Visited Tanzania with daughter
Recounted Hance, “Clinton’s personal love for elephants springs out of a trip to Tanzania in 1997 as first lady. Her daughter Chelsea accompanied her, and since then mother and daughter have shared a passion for pachyderms.”
Under Hillary Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, U.S. president 1993-2001, the U.S. opposed all attempts to weaken the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species embargo on ivory sales.
“Despite this,” Hance recalled, “CITES began approving one-off trades in elephant ivory in 1999, 2002 and 2008. Experts have linked the current poaching crisis to the approval of these trades, especially the last one.”
Clinton Global Initiative
Hillary Clinton “has also worked to combat elephant poaching through the family’s foundation,” Hance reported. “In 2013, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton brought together various conservation groups to partner on a new $80 million program to fight elephant poaching,” called the Clinton Global Initiative.
“The Trump campaign did not respond to repeated requests for its position on elephant conservation or the global wildlife trade, but its website mentions neither,” Hance mentioned.
Trump sons’ trophy hunts
But widely distributed photos of Donald Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, show both posing with wildlife killed on trophy hunts in Zimbabwe, and show Donald Trump Jr. holding up the severed tail of an elephant he had just killed, beside the fallen remains.
Donald Trump himself is not known to hunt. But his views on hunting are scarcely the only or most serious concerns of animal advocates.
As Tik Root recently summarized for the Washington Post, “Trump has proposed sealing off the U.S.-Mexico frontier with a ‘great’ expansion of the current wall, which spans about 650 miles of the United States’ 2,000-mile southern front and is already harming animals. Bison along that border have been spotted climbing over barbed wire fencing to get to food and water. And according to a 2011 study, 16 species in California have had as much as 75% of their range blocked.”
Altogether, Trump’s proposed barrier “could affect more than 111 endangered species and 108 migratory birds, according to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provisional report,” Root wrote.
Direct Action Everywhere vs. Hillary
Hillary Clinton has not exactly received a free pass on animal issues.
Protesters alleging that “Hillary Clinton helped make Don Tyson the nation’s biggest butcher of cows, pigs and chickens, invested in cattle futures, has endorsed brutal Heifer International projects in which baby animals are shipped alone overseas to slavery and death, served on the animal-abusing Walmart board, and voted for vivisector money and for campaigns in which people and animals were bombed” joined the radical vegan organization Direct Action Everywhere in disrupting August 2016 Clinton campaign appearances in Las Vegas and Iowa, waving signs reading “Until Every Cage is Empty” and “Torturing Animals is not Progressive.”
Responded Clinton, “Apparently these people are here to protest Trump because Trump and his kids have killed a lot of animals, so thank you for making that point.”
But many vegan activists, including Clinton supporters, saw that as a sidestep from the issues that Direct Action Everywhere raised––many of which Clinton could have cogently addressed by pointing out that whatever anyone may think of her record and campaign pledges, Trump’s is much worse.
“We’ve all seen the gruesome photographs of Trump’s adult sons documenting their trophy kills, which include a leopard, Cape buffalo, waterbuck, and other exotic creatures,” Humane Society Legislative Fund president Mike Markarian began in announcing the HSLF/HSUS endorsement of Clinton on October 5, 2016. “In our view, Trump represents the greatest threat ever to federal policy-making and implementation of animal protection laws.
“Troublingly, Donald Jr. has even been floated as a possible Interior Secretary,” Markarian mentioned. “Both sons at the very least would be Trump’s top advisors and strategists on trophy hunting issues. The risk of having a globe-trotting trophy hunter at or near the helm at Interior, or having the ear of the President, should be a terrifying prospect for any animal advocate. The administration is responsible not only for policies involving hundreds of millions of acres of federal lands, but also wildlife law enforcement, international treaties on trade and conservation, and import policies for wild animal parts and trophies.
Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, also often identified as one of Trump’s close advisors, is meanwhile still selling rabbit fur items in her fashion line despite appeals from PETA to stop.
“It’s not just family members floated for cabinet posts,” Markarian added. Politico reported that oil tycoon Forrest Lucas [see “The Dog Lover,” bull riders, & Forrest Lucas] is a ‘front-runner’ to be Interior Secretary, in addition to serving as a member of Trump’s agriculture advisory committee. Lucas,” as ANIMALS 24-7 detailed in July 2016, “is the money man behind Protect the Harvest, a front group devoted to fighting animal welfare organizations at every turn, on everything.”
Also of concern, Markarian noted, “Recent reports suggest that Iowa factory farming mogul Bruce Rastetter may be Trump’s leading candidate for Secretary of Agriculture. Rastetter has made a fortune off the kind of industrial agricultural practices that family farmers and animal advocates have fought for decades, and was connected to Trump through New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who vetoed a state ban on cruel pig gestation crates as a sop to Iowa’s pork industry. Considering Rastetter’s brother is CEO of a company that builds gestation crates,” Markarian said, “we have good reason to be concerned about the potential for crony capitalist dealings in a Trump administration.”
Ag-gaggers for Trump
Others among Trump’s agriculture advisory panel include Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, “both of whom signed onto the federal lawsuit to invalidate California’s law restricting the sale of eggs from battery cages,” Markarian remembered. Earlier, Branstad worked from 1973 to 2011 to overturn a 1918 Iowa law prohibiting dove hunting.
Another Trump agricultural advisor, former Iowa state Representative Annette Sweeney, in 2012 helped Branstad to pass the first “ag-gag” bill in the U.S., to protect agribusiness from activist and media scrutiny.
Other Trump agricultural advisors, Markarian mentioned, include “Texas state agriculture commissioner Sid Miller, who called Meatless Mondays “treasonous”; Oklahoma state senator Eddie Fields, author of the bill overturning the state’s 50-year ban on horse slaughter for human consumption; Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, who signed that horse slaughter bill into law; and Missouri state senator Brian Munzlinger, who sponsored bills to weaken the voter-approved standards for puppy mills and deregulate canned hunts.”
High Humane Scorecard tallies for Hillary
Hillary Clinton has pledged on the campaign trail “to crack down on abuses such as wildlife trafficking, puppy mills, and horse slaughter, and to support a federal anti-cruelty statute and more humane treatment of farm animals,” Markarian summarized.
Among the major Humane Society Legislative Fund activities is maintaining a Humane Scorecard, showing how federal legislators vote on the major animal protection bills coming before them. Clinton as a U.S. Senator earned scores of 100% in the 108th and 109th Congresses, before dipping to 83% in the 110th, still very solidly above par.
Clinton “co-sponsored legislation dealing with horse slaughter and animal fighting,” Markarian enumerated, “as well as bills to stop the processing of downed livestock and crack down on puppy mills. She led efforts in the 108th and 109th Congresses to stop the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals,” and worked to obtain more funding for enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and legislation against animal trafficking.
Clinton’s running mate, Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Markarian said “is currently a co-sponsor of the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act to strengthen the federal law against using caustic chemicals and other painful substances injure horses’ hooves and legs to induce a high-stepping gait.”
Early, as Governor of Virginia, Markarian continued, “Kaine signed legislation strengthening laws against animal fighting and puppy mills, requiring a bittering agent in antifreeze to prevent poisoning of animals, and maintaining a ban on the use of gas chambers for animal euthanasia.”
Trump’s running make Mike Pence, Markarian said, as an Indiana member of the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013, “had more of a mixed record on animal protection, with scores on the Humane Legislative Fund scorecard ranging from 0 to 56.”
Pence supported legislation on animal fighting, crush videos, pets in disasters, service dogs for veterans, and horse slaughter, Markarian enumerated, but “opposed animal welfare measures on primates as exotic pets, stopping the slaughter of downer livestock, importing polar bear trophies, killing Yellowstone bison, protecting wild horses from slaughter, prohibiting bear baiting on federal lands, and conserving rare cats and canids, sea otters, marine turtles, and cranes. As governor of Indiana, he signed a pro-animal bill requiring animal shelters to spay or neuter dogs and cats before adoption.”
In addition to endorsing the Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine presidential ticket, the Humane Society Legislative Fund has endorsed 45 candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Those endorsements are posted at http://elections.hslf.org/.