Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gets a sniff from a curious pooch while greeting supporters at a campaign event in Lehigh Acres, Fla., in January.
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Before he won the White House, then-Sen. Barack Obama petted a cow during a campaign stop in University Park, Pa., in 2008.
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When Mike Huckabee was on the trail in Osceola, Iowa, in 2007, the one-time Republican presidential hopeful got up close to a taxidermied polar bear.
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Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who played up a folksy image during his short-lived run for the GOP nomination, stopped at a hunting display at Brock's department store in Pickens, S.C., in January.
When Vice President Al Gore, then the Democratic nominee for president, greeted a supporter with a dog outside a Missouri rally in November 2000, he asked what kind of dog it was. The owner's answer: "a Democrat."
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During his first bid for the White House, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush joked around with a person in a parrot costume at a Mexican independence festival in Detroit, Ill., in September 1999.
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While visiting the Minnesota State Fair in Saint Paul in 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had to avoid a spooked horse.
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Then-Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean was tossed a king salmon during a campaign swing through Pike Place Market in Seattle in 2004.
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Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton poses with a mule during a campaign stop in Centralia, Ill., in 1992.
Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle holds a puppy during a campaign appearance in Newnan, Ga., in 1988.
In 1976, Republican vice presidential candidate Robert Dole and his wife, Elizabeth, gave coins to an organ-grinder's monkey at the Iowa State Fair.
John Anderson (center), who made an independent bid for president in 1980, takes measure of a donkey and an elephant outside his campaign headquarters in Los Angeles. Campaign aides, poking fun at reporters covering Anderson, indicated that the elephant would serve as the media bus and the donkey the media car in the Los Angeles area.
During his 1960 campaign, Sen. John F. Kennedy, accompanied by Tennessee Gov. Buford Ellington (right), made friends with a couple of Democratic donkeys in Nashville. Moments later, as the presidential candidate addressed a packed State Fair crowd, the donkey closest to Kennedy began to bray. Kennedy didn't seem to notice.
Through much of the 1972 campaign, the press corps accompanying Democratic vice presidential candidate Sargent Shriver carried around a toy rubber duck. After the duck was stolen, reporters replaced it with a live version and introduced it to the candidate.
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With the political conventions kicking off, it's prime time for politicians. Balloons are inflated. Podiums are carefully placed. Lights, cameras and music have no doubt been painstakingly orchestrated. Amid the political circus, you may not be surprised to see donkeys and elephants, but we found while trolling through historical campaign images that they're not the only animals to turn up during presidential campaign season.
These days candidates hardly ever go off script, but carefully insert a duck, monkey or taxidermied hunting scene, and you are guaranteed a genuinely human reaction. Here are a few of our favorite political animal moments.