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The Drake University mascot, Griff the bulldog, has become a fixture in Iowa politics

Griff the bulldog is a fixture in Iowa
Drake University mascot Griff the bulldog is a fixture in Iowa politics 01:16

An English bulldog in Iowa has become a must-visit for presidential hopefuls. Griff is the live mascot for Drake University in Des Moines and is an advocate for voter turnout.

Dressed in an American flag tie, Griff was spotted at the Democratic presidential debate at the university earlier this month. As of Monday, when Iowans will take part in the first-in-the-nation caucuses, Griff has met eight of the Democratic candidates still in the race, Drake's live mascot director Erin Bell said.

Only "a handful" of those candidates got a hand lick, she told "CBS This Morning" co-host Tony Dokoupil. "Griff is pretty stingy." But, she added, he's "as docile as they come."

Here are five more things to know about Griff:

He is a former show dog

Griff is a "finished champion" in the show dog circuit, according to Drake University. He became the school's mascot in 2015.

He's lived in Iowa since he was 3 months old

Griff was born in Canada, but moved to Iowa shortly after. He is now 7 years old, Bell said.

He was named after a school athletic director

The name Griff was chosen to honor John L. Griffith, who was Drake University's athletic director from 1908 to 1918, according to the school. Griffith, who coached the football team, owned two English bulldogs and brought them with him to practices and games. Though the team was known as the Drakes at the time, because of Griffith's dogs, a writer at The Des Moines Register began referring to them as the Bulldogs.

He has a campaign to encourage students to vote

The Vote Griff campaign is designed to encourage voter turnout among Drake University's students. The pup uses his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to promote his campaign.

The candidates Griff hasn't met yet

Griff has not met President Donald Trump yet. Of the Democrats still in the race, he has yet to meet Tulsi Gabbard, Mike Bloomberg and Deval Patrick, Bell said. 

Griff, the Drake University mascot, pays a visit to the CBSN set in Des Moines, Iowa. CBS News
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