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. Ancient Texan

    Big Bird is big enough to be self sustaining. The taxpayers don't need to fund BILL MOYERS and his radicalism.

    October 9, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. Chip

    Could Obama be emasculated anymore than he already has been the last week? Now a Bird says NO to him

    October 9, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. getal0ng

    It's time for Big Bird to get out of the government nest. If there are so many people that find his 'teachings' valuable, he will be around as long as those people support him. Otherwise he will go away in favor of some other character or show that entertains and educates their children. This is how it works. And how it should work. People vote with their dollars. You don't see me complaining that the governement isn't funding Sponge Bob Square Pants....

    October 9, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. jose

    The Big Bird has flown the coup on this failed administration. Seems everyone else is abandoning it too.

    October 9, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. Orchid333

    @JC – Really? If our President is "void of any ideas" then why is your boy Mitt quoting nearly everything the Prez is currently doing in foreign policy in his own speech?

    As for Big Bird, it's a sad shame that he's getting mixed up in all this, but even sadder if his network was de-funded.

    October 9, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. Mona

    Obama is getting so desperate that his campaign did an illegal copyright violation just for an ad. He's got nothing else!! Romney was correct and bold to say it to Jim's face. We cannot afford PBS! And don't worry, Big Bird will be fine – merchandising alone can fund their program.

    October 9, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. Lucy

    I'm Big Bird and I did NOT approve this message.

    October 9, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. Mack

    No money for big bird, but 5 trillion in unpaid tax cuts for the wealthy and 2 additional trillion for the military( which they didn't even request) lol

    October 9, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. zeigfeldf

    The PBS budget, added to those of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, which the Republicans are itchy to cut in order to seem fiscally serious, amount to round-off error in the federal deficit.

    But it pleases the "base," people who are apparently as uninformed and innumerate as Romney and Ryan.

    October 9, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. Mikey

    @Gailyblue – "Romney is NOT looking to give the rich tax breaks. He said they would stay the same! I am all for the rich paying their taxes. Just because he is successful does not mean he is for the rich."
    *********************************************************************
    Romney spent over a year touting his 20% across-the-board tax cut. When he talked about paying for it, he was talking about cutting spending. Now he has ‘etch-a-sketched’ that 20% tax cut into a ‘revenue neutral’ proposal – which means the tax cut he has been hawking all along is now gone – at least till the next time the wind changes directions. Making a 20% tax cut revenue neutral for the wealthy by limiting deductions is pretty much impossible, as their deductions are not large compared to their income. So, guess who's going to pay the price in the end? The Middle Class!

    So now it not a tax cut and they won’t provide any details about how they will make it revenue neutral – and we are supposed to believe it? Is Gailyblue Galic for gullible?

    October 9, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. Old Pete

    Careful! -Cuidado! Big Bird wears BIG diapers, Mr. Romney.

    October 9, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. moe smith

    "I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs and saving our future."

    which 47% of us dont have because you sent the jobs to china. Thanks!

    October 9, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Lisa P

    JC

    Its really sad to see a sitting President that is so void of any ideas with such a deplorable record sink to an attack only campaign. Sadder yet is all the people who still support him, though that number is shrinking by the day. Clint Eastwood had him pegged.
    October 9, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    You need to listen to the debate again. That was not an empty chair patiently explaining the $760,000 million savings for Medicare, or how the "unelected panel of experts" was going to improve medical practice, *not* "insert itself between patients and their doctors." That was not an empty chair pointing out that Romney kept on qualifying his promise that Medicare wouldn't change, *but* *only* *for* *the* *people* *already* *on* *it* *or* *almost* *on* *it* (so, 54 year-olds, watch out!).

    Admittedly, there were lots of other lies and half-truths that the President did not catch. But, really? Romney just kept on repeating them even after they were shown to be false of misleading. I wouldn't call him an empty chair - that's just plain insulting - but he does sound a lot like a tape player stuck on "loop." Bad ideas that have already been shown not to work. Self-serving misrepresentations of at least 47% of the people. If that's what most Americans want leading our country then America really is in big trouble.

    October 9, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. Joe

    The Democrats can have their Big Bird. My bird is the American Eagle!! And it ain't yellow. :-)

    October 9, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Mack

    instead of voter ID, there should be a voter IQ test. 47% of Romney's supporters would score too low to register lol

    October 9, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. truth hurts

    Big Bird all all the others will be just fine on their own without millions in government bird seed. This over grown gooney bird is probably worth over a billion dollars. Heck he should be supporting US!

    October 9, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. CBR

    Mr. Romney used Big Bird first. He actually thought it was pretty clever to use a PBS program made by a non-profit company. As you probably know non-profits are not allowed to take part in political matters. He should know better but Mr. Romney choose to use Big Bird as a symbol for his deficit cutting program where PBS will lose its funding.

    While this is front page news we really need to add another cut which will effect the 47% and the other 52% but not the 1%. Mr. Romney misspoke(should it be lied) when he stated that those with pre=existing conditions will be covered. They will not be covered. Those of us with pre-existing conditions will not be covered. You see Mr. Romney can afford to buy healthcare for his wife who has pre-existing conditions but many of us are not so fortunate. How many people does that effect? Does it effect you? It sure does my family and it will mean we will have to pay out of pocket. For most of us that is thousands upon thousands of dollars.

    October 9, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. ObaWendon

    Romney taking away the funding for Big Bird is just the beginning of what he will do to programs that don't support the rich and arrogant. Imagine what he will be doing to food stamps, medical programs for the poor (remember the clapping in the debates for people to die rather than have healthcare if they are poor?), take us to war – how will that be paid for? -you name it. Since he is NOT telling us what he plans, it must be pretty bad for the 47%!

    October 9, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  19. It's the swing states, baby!

    The commercial is actually really enjoyable and funny.

    But hey, if Big Bird doesn't want to support the President, then it seems like he's supporting the guy who's going to kill him.

    October 9, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. mdbill

    gobley guck

    October 9, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. plain&simple

    So let's see It's more important to continue tax welfare for big oil....something that started decades ago so we could promote growth in that business. But Romney doesn't want the same for green energy. Wants to cut Big Bird and public education,yet wants government welfare for the people with the most money. Big Birds brain is much bigger tha Romney's bird brain. Keep Big Bird...dump bird brain!!!

    October 9, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. It's the swing states, baby!

    Mona
    Obama is getting so desperate that his campaign did an illegal copyright violation just for an ad. He's got nothing else!! Romney was correct and bold to say it to Jim's face. We cannot afford PBS! And don't worry, Big Bird will be fine – merchandising alone can fund their program.

    We cannot afford PBS? Then surely we can't afford the tax cut that Romney wants, or the billions to the military that they don't even want. You clearly don't understand how... um... life work, I guess...

    October 9, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. Lib

    Wait a minute!!! I believe It was Mitt Romney who was the first to bring up Big Bird. Perhaps the company should take a look at who the real culprit is.Mitt ROmney. THey seem to have more to fear from Mitt than the president. The president is only stating what was said by Mitt. How rediculous. Big Bird should be voting for the president. If the kitchen is too hot for Mitt, then he should step out of it and stop making stupid comments.

    October 9, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. I love Big Bird

    Romney will cut every program that helps the poor.

    October 9, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. DENNA

    @jtroseberry – @ DENNA (and everyone else on this ridiculous band wagon...)
    It's your kids that will be paying over 16 TRILLION in debt. That's what the GOP is concerned about.
    And you should be too.
    =====================================================================================
    I'll just bet you weren't as concerned about the debt when George Bush was running it up with that useless Iraqi war. THAT'S where the debt came from. Where you concerned then? I'll bet not. We will be paying for another GOP war, probably with Iran, if Mittens gets in. THAT'S what concerns me. AND YOU SHOULD BE TOO.

    October 9, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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