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. Name w.bullock

    I am serouis truth God that I said warning to ohio iowa chicago nevada flordia what happened about fraud check scam from afrcian amercian
    I got check scam from chiucago so I would charge against chicago about fraud check scam

    October 9, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  2. FairUse

    Big Bird is a public figure and therefore Sesame Workshop's claim is baseless.

    October 9, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. Jack

    As soon as the VP debate is over Big Bird will drop from the news. There will be lots of other new stuff to talk about. Unless one of the two candidates decides to bring up PBS again I suppose.

    October 9, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. Kirk in michigan

    Just one of you republican bloggers tell me why mitt wontbshow his tax records... be honest how do you ignore that? he will be pushing tax code, dontbyou want to see them? would you loan money without a credit check .. kinda the same thing

    October 9, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. tp1776

    wait a minute...Romney likes humor in a campaign...he said it himself! Remember when he made a humorous comment about birth certificates? He laughed at his own joke :)

    October 9, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  6. 90909090

    he simply said to jim lehr, of pbs..if we cant pay for it out of cash we are NOT going to borrow from China....simple

    October 9, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  7. Reload

    Jim Henson's Muppets, of which Big Bird is one, make hundreds of millions of dollars each year in toy sales and royalties (e.g. Elmo, Miss Piggy, Kermit). The Muppets franchise alone could fund PBS. Further, the Muppets' fame is directly attributable to Sesame Street, a PBS franchise as well. Big Bird and PBS being on the government dole is no less offensive than the Lotto winner being on food stamps. Shame on Sesame Street for taking tax dollars. What's next, food stamps for Miss Piggy or WIC for the Cookie Monster? Maybe an Obama-phone for the Count?

    October 9, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. ExRepublican

    This is crazy Obama trying to help Big Bird and the directors of the show going against Obama.
    Obama tell the Big Bird directors if romney elected you will need to apply for unemployment.
    Romney most be in on this sad day in america.

    October 9, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. cm

    Must be a Republician's request. Dry your eyes !

    October 9, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  10. RLG

    As usual, the Dems obfuscating the issue. It has nothing to do with Big Bird. It has to do with what we can afford as a country. We are in a desperate situation with our budget deficit. It doesn't matter whose fault it is, what matters is who is best equipped to fix it.

    1) A business man with years of experience dealing with budgetary issues and running a business
    -or-
    2) A community organizer who is obviously in over his head

    Please.....

    October 9, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. dave

    Mitt Romney's horse gets more welfare than Big Bird

    October 9, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    I think the condescending Republicans complaining about the petulant Democrats are missing the point: Willard chooses weird things to cut in order to get the rich more tax breaks. And he still hasn't explained how he's paying for it all - that's a secret saved for AFTER he becomes leader of the greatest country on Earth.

    October 9, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. Outdoor Girl

    Neither campaign should further politicize Sesame Street or Big Bird. Out-of-touch Romney opened this box and he should apologize to the people and especially children for his remarks. He should further apologize to PBS, Sesame Street and Big Bird. The Obama campaign should cease and desist... regardless of the blunder that gave them a gift in the form of a powerful example of how little Romney cares for families, especially the low and middle class. No worries, the comedy shows and comedians will do what needs to be done with Romney's foolish remarks.

    October 9, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. simp

    I wish big bird would fly back to his nest, after all this whinning from the sesame workshop when President Obama is re elected maybe he should look at cutting funding to big bird and all his crying workshop workers.

    Actually I feel this is so not news

    October 9, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  15. Reasonably

    Campaign 2012 has officially jumped the shark.

    October 9, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. Overlord_Xenu

    ...okay, the ad is actually pretty funny.

    October 9, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. sam 4

    Obama,
    Frantic, running scared, lost his momentum. The Pied Piper, Mirror Man, lost many of his followers!! People finally realize this non leader is full of hot air!!!

    October 9, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  18. Steve

    Maybe they finally learned not to be partisan after Ron Schiller (president of the NPR) said Tea Party “racist, “decries the anti-intellectual” GOP, and claims liberals “might be more educated.” That is what lead to all this.

    October 9, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. flip flop fizz fizz

    We urge PBS to release Big Bird, he has done nothing wrong, and has been falsley accused. This conspiracy to make Big Bird out as the reason our economy is failing is a big screen to cover up for the real culprit...Mickey Mouse! Free Big Bird and get Mickey! The GOP is done fooling around.. they are out to get that rat!

    October 9, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. ameri2010

    The Obama team is "reviewing their concerns?" Obama's arrogance never ceases to amaze me. I guess he thinks using Trademark names and images, without permission and to mock others, is up for debate. It's a pretty sad state of affairs in America when a preschool show has to tell our president to grow up. And here's some news for Obama and liberals – we don't need to be borrowing money from China to fund PBS!

    October 9, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  21. ameri2010

    Obama team is "reviewing their concerns?" Obama's arrogance never ceases to amaze me. I guess he thinks using Trademark names and images, without permission and to mock others, is up for debate. It's a pretty sad state of affairs in America when a preschool show has to tell our president to grow up. And here's some news for Obama and liberals – we don't need to be borrowing money from China to fund PBS!

    October 9, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. massms

    The Democrats"ad has the smell of desperation.

    October 9, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  23. Sara

    In reposne to thsoe who say cutting funding to PBS will result in job losses: The government has no business giving our tax dollars to ANY private company. Corporate welfare. These are not tax credits; they are sunsidies. A big difference.

    October 9, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. Thomas

    @Name w.bullock
    I am serouis truth God that I said warning to ohio iowa chicago nevada flordia what happened about fraud check scam from afrcian amercian
    I got check scam from chiucago so I would charge against chicago about fraud check scam.
    -–
    I got the same scam from a guy in Texas pretending to be afrcian amercian , GW Bush .

    God Bless Amercain !

    October 9, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. jimranes

    Joe: those special forces were cut from the Embassy, not the US Consulate in Benghazi. Get your geography straight. Have you ever traveled outside the US? There is a difference between an Embassy and a Consulate. Romney did not have to get into the face of PBS on a nationally televised debate. He did and he stepped in it again. BTW, that consulate in Benghazi had limited physical security barriers which could not be defended against terrorists with RPGs even with a company of Special Ops marines.

    October 9, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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