Big Bird puts his big orange foot down
October 9th, 2012
09:38 AM ET
9 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. Sandy

    No one says that Big Bird (or PBS) endorsed Obama. Obama has every right to point out the absurdity of Romney's statement about PBS.

    October 9, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. Borderless

    Obama took the low road once again and once again had to be called out on it. Because Obama is such a dismal failure, all he can do is pick up on the most insignificant little details on his opponent and try to make them an issue of substance. It's a classic misdirect. But at least the tin foil hat crowd buys it. He's got that.

    October 9, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. theab

    Good for Sesame Workshop. I'm glad there's at least one group who doesn't have to politicize everything and who stood up to politicians who think everything is theirs for the taking.

    October 9, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. Mike

    The "absurdity"? What a crock. How much money is Sesame Workshop worth? How much money does Sesame Street generate? The show isn't going to "die," it is free to go to any other outlet where it will be successful. Big Bird doesn't need federal assistance. We've got a country full of unemployed people who need jobs and THIS is where Obama is targeting his political ads? No wonder why he's going to lose.

    October 9, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Thomas

    Maybe if Mitts five sons had watched a little more Big Bird they would have learned the meaning of fairness and sharing .

    Mitt Romney , 5 sons , 16 Grandchildren.

    Romney Nation !

    October 9, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. twophad

    I think they are's one of a number of funny takes on Romney's stupid statement. It does not pretend that they endorse anything...just that it was a stupid statement. If they take it off, I'm glad I got to see it–it was one of the really funny ones (the spoof on NORTH BY NORTHWEST was a good one too). However, I understand their fear–any time there's any danger of a Publican win, the public broadcasting people are in danger. Mitt's statement was off base in more ways than one (to pretend PBS is something that breaks the Federal Budget, for one thing, to pretend that Big Bird is awash in federal funds, for another...)

    October 9, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    Haha. Sounds like a pretty funny commercial. I don't have TV. Now I will have to go seek this ad out on the internets. Thanks for bringing this to my attention PBS!

    October 9, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. Jill

    Willard Mitt Romney made it partisan when he said he would stop any federal funding for Public Television. Can't get anymore partisan than that!

    October 9, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Vote 2012

    Obviously Mitt and Ann's five sons didn't watch Sesame Street while growing up, nor did their daughters in laws or grandchildren. His campaign speeches sounds like he's talking at corporate business meetings. That tactic is so inappropriate during a Presidential Campaign, so boring, so stupid. You're scaring the voters, go back to the board room Mitt where you belong/perform best.

    October 9, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. Puddin

    I was wondering if PBS was supporting Romney after Jim Leher just simply gave control of the debate to Romney. I was wide-eyed with shock and disappointed after I witnessed that. Jim Leher made a small effort to get Romney back on track, but when he couldn't, he just sighed with exasperation and folded his hands on the table. I just couldn't believe it!

    October 9, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. conrad

    The advertisement is correct and does a fine job of pointing out Romney/Ryan's distorted sense of priorities:

    Tax breaks for billionaire casino tycoon's, and wall-street banksters, paid for by the elimination of an American icon whose cost is a micron in relationship to what we spend on warfare and bailing out thieves.

    October 9, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. The Unsub

    in all seriousness, I am an Obama supporter, but he IS losing right now. The optics in that debate were paramount. Obama needs to close stronger or he WILL lose. Please get rid of the Big Bird is not working!


    October 9, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. nonnasway

    Pffft... Big Bird is over 50 years old and has made tens of millions of dollars in revenue. He's gainfully employed. It's simply time he moved out of Momma's house and started paying his own bills.

    October 9, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Billy in NYC

    Sick and tired for Romney's lies and fake compassion to the 47%. Business man always put profits over humanity.
    Obama for 2012 !

    October 9, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    Actually, it wasn't as funny as the text made it sound. Isn't that always the way of TV? Big Bird – Obama for America TV Ad is on you tube.

    October 9, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Susan

    I'm pretty sure that every Obama Democrat missed the point of Romney's comment. He was saying we shouldn't have to borrow money from China to sustain something that can be sustained by other means. I'm not a fan of Romney, but I am of PBS and NPR. Instead of being a petulant child and stomping my feet about Republicans, I choose to contribute to my PBS and local NPR stations. The question is, do you?

    October 9, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. conrad

    As a CEO, yes, you slash all things that don't pertain to the bottom line. BUT when you are President you also must consider the many other aspects of American life, history, culture, the future of our children ...

    Does Mitt intend to destroy all that we are as a people to make the Coportaion of the USA profitable. Are we not great enough to accomplish that AND maintain our culture? I think Obama believes we are capable of both.

    October 9, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. derp

    "Pffft... Big Bird is over 50 years old and has made tens of millions of dollars in revenue"

    PBS is a non profit. They actually lose money. That's why they need outside funding from entities like the federal government.

    How many commercials have you seen on PBS?

    October 9, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |

    Willard is heartless. Blame him. He's the wanting threatening to end you PBS. OFA is just calling them out on it.

    October 9, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. Name w.bullock

    The bird mocking out of presdient obama what happened about fraud check scam from afrcian amercian

    October 9, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. gregor1971

    An anonymous member of the Sesame Street crew had this to say, "Me buy my own cookies. Me not need handouts from the government. ME NOT NEED THEM!" Another had this to say, "Ah, Ah, Ah, $16 trillion, Ah, Ah, Ah. That is the number of the day."

    This is so much fun.

    October 9, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |

    Are we not great enough to accomplish that AND maintain our culture?
    Apparently not in Willard's eyes. If you can't walk and chew gum at the same time, you shouldn't be President.

    October 9, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  23. stop-the-whining

    The poster is correct when he states that PBS / Sesame Street has made millions. It is time to move out of the basement. The govt does not need to be supporting PBS. The taxpayers do not need to be supporting PBS. If they fall on hard times, the PBS can ask for donations to keep it afloat!!

    October 9, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  24. Mike

    Makes PERFECT sense to me! How about all of you??? Let's BRING the HAMMER down on Big Bird!! Cuz boy does he deserve it! And let's all give more tax breaks and bonuses to WAll STREET the people who screwed us all over in the 1st place! YEAH! That's a GREAT IDEA!! IF and I DO MEAN IF your a complete moron or a stupid idiot that shouldn't be making policy decisions for ALL of the American people in the 1st place!

    October 9, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Hammerer

    Maybe Obama should consider withdrawing from future debates. The exposure of the real Obama in the first debate proved that the Obama that the media sold the public was a fictional character. More exopsure will only prove that whole thing was a charade.

    October 9, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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