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. Anna

    If you are a fan of PBS and enjoy it = send money.

    Since some still don't get it here i what Sesame Workshop said:

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

    An Obama campaign official said it has received the request and "will review their concerns."

    Review their concerns??????

    October 9, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. Reality

    Romney is such a stuffy tool. He thinks he's brilliant by pretending that Obama's whole entire argument has been dwindled down to just talking about Big Bird. He's like a stupid internet troll who has to twist everything into something that it isn't - anything it takes to win the election. He definitely appeals to internet trolls, though. I mean he talks and acts just like them. Settle down, Romney fans. It's a silly joke and it's actually a heck of a lot more entertaining than the rest of the campaign ads from both sides and is certainly better than Romney's childish attack ads. You want to put a dishonest, rude, arrogant man in the White House, go ahead and try. If you succeed, you'll find out how nothing will change because the Preside of the United States of America is not responsible for your financial woes. You are. Don't like the hand you're dealt in life? Fix it and shut up, and stop asking the President to fix it for you.

    October 9, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. Bruce

    Big Bird must be a low class Republican...biting the hand that feeds it.

    October 9, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  4. Harmony

    If PBS loses its subsidy, that does not mean Big Bird will be fired! If PBS fare has a following, it will do just fine competing in the marketplace like everybody else. What's the big deal about adding a few commercials? Or are you secretly afraid Sesame Street can't cut the mustard? After all, there are better alternatives out there, in particular READING and READING TO THEM. Studies show relying on so-called educational TV is not healthy or conducive to learning. As for entertainment value, I gave up on Sesame Street because it is quite flat and boring compared to what it was in past decades. The PC police have neutered it. Anyway, the main point is let then get sponsers like everybody else These TV shows do not merit welfare when our country is broke.

    October 9, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. Ready

    Don't bite the hand that feeds Big Bird, PBS's liberal slant is going to get them axed!!

    October 9, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. JDW

    In the past two days – Obama has mentioned Libya Zero times, Elmo five times, and Big Bird eight times. Seems the topic is in our man-child's wheel house. Will the last adult in the room please turn out the lights.

    October 9, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Anna

    Interestng................all I did was post what the Sesame Street Workshop sent to Barry's campaign and the moderator is revewing it – really??????

    Was it because it was in quotes? Well let's try again.

    If you are a fan of PBS and enjoy it = send money.

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

    An Obama campaign official said it has received the request and "will review their concerns.

    Review their concerns??????

    October 9, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Wilson

    ""Thank you PBS for taking the stand you have about Big Bird!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I applaud your integrity. If Romney is elected president and doesn't fund PBS I will donate money to you. Thank you again for seeing how offensive the president's ad is."""
    ------------------------------
    That is the way it should be, donations rather than government funds.

    October 9, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. Catherine

    I saw the ad. HILARIOUS. But really, Big Bird should stay neutral. However I would like to point out to all you righties, that PBS costs the government very little. How about shutting down Congress' gym and other perks or let the people who use the perks, pay for the. How about cutting back on Congressional staff. All those funds could go to funding PBS. It certainly would be a better use of funds. Funny, Romney didn't feel this way when he asked the government to fund the Salt Lake City Olympics to the tune of $2.7 BILLION. Let's see $450 MILLION for a subsidy for PBS vs $2.7 BIllion for Olympics. Hmm.

    October 9, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  10. Anna

    Moderator: Fact Sesame Street Workshop has told Obama's campaign to quit using Big Bird, why won't you allow the quote?

    October 9, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. Guest

    Big Bird got a million dollar stimulus but he is independently wealthy with all the Big Bird toys.

    October 9, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. 7263cab

    Romney was right...if we are borrowing money from China to provide these subsidies we need to stop. PBS gets hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. I'm sure they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.(viewers) I for one do not applaud a parent who plops their child down in front of the TV set and let the TV be the babysitter.

    October 9, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. NudeTruth

    Sad that all the Obama supporters were able to pull away from the debate that left Obama smoldering crater was big bird. lol

    October 9, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. ObjectiveGuy

    Even Big Bird doesn't want to be connected to the losing campaign! The Obama supporters on these blogs (most of them paid campaign workers, I would wager) are a complete joke. They're clearly running scared, and are now pushing Obama's newest theme to discredit Romney, by calling him a liar. Of course, he can't prove it with facts, but he "just knows it". First, why ARE we (the taxpayers) still funding PBS? If Big Bird is so popular, then some network will pick up the show, and it will continue. If not, then bye-bye Big Bird. Second, if Obama has done such a great job for the past four years that he deserves to be re-elected for another four, shouldn't he have something a little stronger to campaign on than Big Bird? Sadly, he does not, because his one-term presidency has been an unmitigated disaster on just about every conceivable level. Third, after the drubbing he took in last week's debate, the president had better hope that ObamaCare covers a butt kicking!

    October 9, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  15. Just Me

    Sad that all the Obama supporters were able to pull away from the debate that left Obama smoldering crater was big bird. lol

    October 9, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. not president hand out

    Sounds like Obama is trying to stick his big bird to the American people.

    October 9, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  17. Buzz

    Let's see. Obama's administration told Ambassador Stevens that he would have to get by with less but Mr. Obama wants to save Big Bird. Maybe if he had cut funding for PBS before, he would have had enough money to fund the protection that might have saved four American lives. What would your choice be?

    October 9, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  18. Laughable O

    Hahahaha! I love all the excuses why to hate a successful, articulate, businessman. I have to wonder, if any of you would donate $4 million to charity if you hit the lottery for $100 million? Since most on this post will never make in a lifetime, what Romney donated to charity last year, we will never know, but I bet even a CNN poll could get this one right...

    October 9, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  19. politicaljunkie

    Obama needs to fire his campaign team asap. This ad makes him look petty and ridiculous, clueless actually. People are hurting, out of work, stressed out, and he's spending money and time talking about BIG BIRD? How insulting to the American voter, about to make a huge decision of who is going to run our country the next four years. And all he talks about the last few days is Big Bird. Stunning.

    October 9, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. Philipe

    The ad is just pathetic. I can't imagine the president will stoop down to this level. It is very obvious that he doesn't have any clear vision for our country.

    October 9, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Jrdz

    Mittens wants to cut out any chance the general public has at education because he knows an educated public will question everything he says or dose. Come on people get your collective head out of the sand. As for PBS ever body should know that the corporate board has been infiltrated by the right wing neo cons over the last decade or two.

    October 9, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. SoundofGod

    Obama is DESPERATE. Yikes.

    I was going to vote for him, but wow... Big Bird? Really? I know a lot of my dem friends changed their minds with the debate. Obama got smoked by Romney. He was exposed. We were wrong people... Obama is just another fool. :(

    October 9, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  23. Joe User

    Libya, Syria and Egypt in turmoil, millions of people out of work, the economy growing at an anemic rate and Mr Obama is talking about Big Bird. Please tell me the American people aren't so uneducated and shallow that they would base even the tiniest fraction of their decision on something as trivial as Big Bird. PLEASE!

    October 9, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. Sane in Maine

    Now the roles are reversed. Obama falling in the polls and Romey rising. Now the Obama campaign is doing stupid things – stupid things like making a Big Bird ad in the first place, and not getting permission to make the ads in the second place. They have reversed – the Obama campaign is getting to be as stupid at the Romney campaign was.

    Smarten Up Ace or you're going to be the former president.

    October 9, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. Nodack

    If this Big Bird thing turns into something too negative for Romney watch him say that he never said he would get rid of Big Bird. He was misquoted and would never think of axing Big Bird. It's all a liberal media lie of course.

    One poster said he would rather have a strong military than PBS. You could maybe buy one fighter jet with the whole budget of PBS that taxes pay for. This whole argument is dumb. We already spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined. Romney said he would spend $2,000,000,000,000.00 more on the military than the military asked for if elected. Really? 45.000 Americans die every year because they can't afford health insurance. We can't afford Universal Health Care like the rest of the civilized world has who happen to pay half as much as Americans pay, but we can afford an extra two trillion dollars for the military that they didn't even ask for? That is insane!

    October 9, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
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