The Obama campaign deployed "Sesame Street" icon Big Bird in a new TV ad Tuesday mocking Mitt Romney for saying he would cut funding for public broadcasting if elected.
NEW YORK — President Obama’s campaign deployed Big Bird, the beloved “Sesame Street” icon, in a new TV ad Tuesday mocking Mitt Romney for saying he would cut funding for public broadcasting if elected.
Romney, in outlining ways he would cut federal spending, said, “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” adding, “I like PBS; I love Big Bird.”
Romney’s comment drew immediate reaction on social media, with users posting online photos of Big Bird appearing down on his luck or searching for work. Mock Big Birds have followed Romney to campaign events, and the real Big Bird even made an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” last weekend.
“I feel like I’m famous now. I was walking down the street the other day and felt like everyone recognized me,” Big Bird said.
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Campaigning in Iowa Tuesday, Romney said, “You have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird.” The Republican presidential nominee said Obama’s focus should be on saving the American people and family farms.
At rallies and campaign appearances every day since the debate, Obama has used Romney’s remark and referenced other “Sesame Street” characters to mock his opponent in a way audiences find funny and relatable.
“He said he’d bring down our deficit by going after what has been the biggest driver of our debt and deficits over the last decade — public television, PBS,” Obama told people at a fundraiser Monday in San Francisco. “Elmo has been seen in a white Suburban. He’s driving for the border. Oscar is hiding out in his trash can. We’re cracking down on them.”
The satirical Obama campaign ad, set to air on national broadcast and cable stations, echoes that theme. The ad shows images of convicted financiers including Bernie Madoff and Enron’s Ken Lay, and suggests Romney believes Big Bird is responsible for their crimes.
“Big, yellow, a menace to our economy,” the ad says. “Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it’s Sesame Street.”
While Romney’s comment drew criticism from PBS the day after the debate, the Sesame Workshop, which supports “Sesame Street,” demanded that Obama’s campaign remove the ad.
PBS receives a portion of its funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which receives an annual appropriation from Congress. In 2012, CPB received $445 million in federal funding. PBS said in a news release after last week’s presidential debate that public broadcasting receives about one-100th of 1 percent of the federal budget.