Big Bird puts his big orange foot down
October 9th, 2012
09:38 AM ET
2 years ago

Big Bird puts his big orange foot down

(CNN) – This is one angry bird.

After President Barack Obama's campaign released a commercial using the Sesame Street character to mock rival Mitt Romney, Big Bird's parents at Sesame Workshop asked the president's team to take it down.

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"Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns," the group wrote. "We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down."

Whether the ad airs or not remains in question – Team Obama indicated Tuesday it would air on national broadcast and cable, specifically targeting comedy shows, rather than in the usual swing states where campaigns purchase ad time. But the ad is getting plenty of free air time on newscasts as part of campaign coverage.

An Obama campaign official said they had received Sesame Workshop's statement and were reviewing their concerns.

The commercial itself is dripping with sarcasm, a tone not usually used in political commercials. It casts Big Bird as a corporate fiend akin to Bernie Madoff and Kenneth Lay.

"Criminals. Gluttons of greed," a narrator in the spot says of the notorious white collar criminals. "And the evil genius who towered over them?"

A silhouette of the famous yellow bird appears in a window, before the ad cuts to clips of Romney saying "Big Bird" on the stump.

"One man has the guts to say his name," the narrator says. "Big. Yellow. A menace to our economy. Mitt Romney knows it's not Wall Street you have to worry about, it's Sesame Street. Mitt Romney. Taking on our enemies, no matter where they nest."

At last week's debate, Romney said he would cut the federal subsidy to the Public Broadcasting Service, which airs Sesame Street, in order to help reduce the country's deficit.

Romney said Tuesday Obama's focus on the remark was puzzling given the serious issues facing the nation.

"I know there is a lot of attention being paid to the campaign these days and there is a good reason for that. I mean when you have so many people having tough times," Romney said at a campaign rally in Iowa.

"I mean these are tough times with real serious issues so you have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird," Romney continued to cheers and laughter. "I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs and saving our future."

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (433 Responses)
  1. Bill

    Wont Obama just say " I created it. I can use it" Just more sidestepping the law by this president.

    October 9, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. Keeping it Real

    Obama should know better. Turning a Sesame Street character into one of his hateful followers is a desperate shameful act.

    October 9, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Bus2Futhur

    rinkrat0147 says:

    They are going to run the ad even after Sesame Street said they could not use a copyrighted character. Just goes to show you that the Dem's have no respect for personal property or the governing rules that the rest of us have to live by.

    But Mitt has been doing his Goofy imitation all along.

    October 9, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Independenthere

    Big bird is giving Obama the bird. AARP doesn't want him using their name either. Obama campaign is embarrasing, juvenile, and desperate. Really sad thing is Big Bird would probably be running the country better.

    October 9, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. Travis

    So once again, Big Bird makes the headlines. Thank you Republicans and thank you Democrats, for your inability to focus on getting things done that are truly important, I will no longer vote for either party. Both parties care nothing about America or it's middle-class. Both parties make me sick. I will no longer be part of this "popularity contest" that used to mean something special. I will definitely look at the other political parties though.

    October 9, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. ColorMaven

    Sorry but Sesame Workshop dropped the ball on this one...

    Their statement of dismay that they "do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns" was totally undermined by their allowing Big Bird to appear on SNL this past weekend. If they truly did not want Big Bird involved in political commentary in any way, they should have resisited the urge to approve his use in conjunction with the debate commentary – even on SNL. Their outrage rings false on this one... They threw Big Bird into the political arena with that one move... Not sure a cease and desist would hold up in court.

    October 9, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. Woody

    AARP sent a cease and desist as well for Obama NOT to ally with their organization in his advertising.

    October 9, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  8. Republican supporter of President Obama

    The PBS has to tread carefully with the thin skinned GOP. They sure now how to dish it out.

    October 9, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. Josh

    I'm an Obama Supporter, and I understand the sarcasm of the "Big Bird" ad. However, this isn't going to cut it. I think the Big Bird campaign ad is mostly going to backfire and make the President look desperate. What the Pres. needs to do is nail Romney on the vague-ness of his agenda in the next debate, (i.e: What he'll replace Obamacare with? How he's going to pay for $5-trillion tax cuts?..etc), and so many other issues. I think if the Pres. keeps it simple and sticks to Romney like glue, and actually gets him to explain his agenda, instead of dancing around the issues he'll beat Romney. I don't think it's too late for the President, but it sure is a hella lot tougher for him now. In anycase....OBAMA/BIDEN, 2012!

    October 9, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. Dr. Zuess

    Big Bird is a multi-million franchise and has graduated to Capitalist Pig. I think Obama should head on over to Sesame Street and demand Big Bird pay his fair share. ;-)

    October 9, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. Clayton Colwell

    Sesame Street has every right to ask for removal of the ad, based on their intent on neutrality. That said, the ad didn't endorse Obama, but rather poked fun at Romney's misplaced priorities re budget balancing. In that sense, it was spot on.

    October 9, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. Sivick

    I can't help but notice the people defending Big Bird are the people supporting the guy who wants to put him out of a job. Get a sense of humor.

    October 9, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. Jonathan

    As a undecided, but Republican voter, I have to wonder how many of the comments in here are from Romney's campaign supporters and not real comments. To you all.. I hope you realize the wise voter will see through these games of yours and will vote on the man and his platform alone. Romney's throwing PBS under the bus certainly didn't help his position with the vast majority of undecided voters. We learned to read from Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street you know. Obama certainly hasn't been successful in all endeavors this first term, but we weren't given a very viable candidate from the opposition this time around. This leaves undecided voters with a hard choice.. two candidates we don't particularly favor.

    October 9, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. the hukd

    LoI guess Sesame street isn't concerned with being shutdown.

    October 9, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Roger Lemire

    Romney has his transparency...you can see right through him. The only things you can't see are the things that he has hidden like his taxes, receipts from the olympics, his foreign bank accounts, his plans for the economy; medicare; social security....etc.

    October 9, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. EDDIE

    Sesame street might want to think twice.If left up to the teapublican romney there will be no Sesame street.

    October 9, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. hmw011

    I've never seen a president lie so much. I don't even think Obama can tell when he is doing it. He lies about everything: Benghazi, The national debt, Romney's record, his own record, ,fast and furious, taxes in ObamaCare, oil production, that he likes Israel, shovel ready jobs, most transparent president, negotiations of C-span, stimuli outsourcing the list goes on ........ And yet he calls Romney a Liar, Unbelievable! I am very sure that Even Big Bird doesn’t want to be associated with such a LIAR!

    October 9, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. Lisa

    I can't understand how Romney gets on stage in front of 65 million people and fire the entire staff of PBS...I thought he wanted to create 12 million jobs not lose them!

    October 9, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. Mike O

    A multi-millionaire has to protect his reputation from being tainted. And Romney suggesting Big Bird pay his own way is all the Obama campaign has as an issue, they REALLY are hurting.

    October 9, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. jsmoulder

    As usual Obama does not get it, it not the bird its jobs.

    October 9, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. Native

    This demonstrates the desperation coming from the Obama camp. Also, shows just out of touch they are with the real world and what is the primary focus of voters in this election. We have had enough of the lies, deception, wrong path and indifference of this Administration. Come November 6th, good riddins! We are taking our Country back!

    October 9, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. MessiahNoMO

    This is what Obama believes in because that is what he said. Obama knows himself best:

    "If you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things," Obama said.

    October 9, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  23. Bill C

    Sesame Street is a multi million corporation. They don't need my money, unless I voluntarily choose to give it to them. If someone put a gun to my back, and stole money from me to give it to any other for profit company, people would scream. But if the government takes money from me involuntarily,and gives it to this for profit company, it is compassionate. What an absolutely absurd double standard.

    October 9, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    This ad is stupid , and I am an Obama supporter , I want Pres Obama to fight about real issues , not something this stupid ! He needs to get serious and stand up to the GOP machine . He let Romney roll over him in the debate with lies and did not strike , now he approves this message....shame on his advisers!
    PRES OBAMA . needs to put on the boxing gloves and stand up for the 47%, Big Bird will do just find on his own!

    October 9, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. Paul

    Politician-Chameleon: Gov. Romney has the ability to change colors (positions). If the room is red, he turns red and if the room is blue, he turns blue. BUT Chameleon can’t change the fact that by changing colors, it reduces its lifetime. Also, Chameleon would always go back to its original color. We have seen Gov. Romney talking about 47% of Americans who don’t pay taxes, who consider themselves victims, who don’t have work ethics, who love and enjoy food stamps, free housings, free health care, free cars, free education, and free YOU NAME IT. These are his beliefs and that’s what he tells his children, grand children, and close friends. These are his convictions. To take high road or feel presidential when it comes to point these facts out to him was just a mistake and morally wrong. Government doesn’t create jobs but defense spending creates jobs! Let’s provide arms to rebels in Syria even when we see suicide bombers among them! This Congress controls by Republican’TS has produced MORE “WOMEN ISSUES BILLS” than Job bills. When would they be available to work with the president when they are spending time looking for the exact meaning of RAPE? The question would be WHICH ONE of the two Democrats running now can we vote for? Do we have to replace one Democrat by Another dressed IN RED HAT when both are now having the same positions on almost every issue?
    Proverbs 14:29:”A Patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.”

    October 9, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
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