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. Chip

    Now the Obamabots will be Occupying Sesame Street

    October 9, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. reality

    ritmocojo- you mean that Obama was drug kicking and screaming, after saying no to three previous attempts, into approving the final phase of an operation launched by the combined defense and intelligence assets of the U.S. shortly after 9/11. You know, under the evil Bush. His role in the oepration was exactly that- say yes or say no to killing the guy once we found him. Not exactly a tough call for the person acting as Commander in Chief- or it shouldn't be. Claiming it as some personal victory is more than a little offensive.

    October 9, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  3. Mark

    I'm very pleased to be voting for Romney.

    October 9, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  4. Carl

    Middle class. Easiest way to resolve the middle class issue is to redefine it. We do that with every problem we have, why not this one?

    October 9, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. Seriously?

    The point is not to save Big Bird – the point is that Romney was stupid enough to make a comment about eliminating a program which has been integral to American education for decades all in pursuit of substantiating the empty promises he has yet to justify. Not only did it backfire because it demonstrates his complete lack of awareness or concern for the preservation of programs dedicated to public education/information, but at its root, it's a completely implausible mechanism for attempting to reduce the deficit. Plus, why are you mad at the Obama campaign for having a sense of humor about your stupidity – when what you should really be concerned about is why you're so stupid?

    October 9, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. Chipster

    Seriously? Romney wants to cut taxes by $5 trillion and his plan to offset it by closing loopholes, limiting deductions, and cutting spending (like the piddly $4 mil to PBS) doesn't even pass the smell test by his own economists! He hasn't offered a single plan yet that had any substance as to how it would work. He'll "give us the details after the election." I wouldn't buy that used car with such a sales pitch. Is there a car-fax version for Romney's plans?

    October 9, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  7. Bill Richardson

    It's interesting how the communist news network (CNN) pasted Big Bird all over the place when they could use it against Romney, but when it backfires they put the news in a small section that you have to search for. No media bias?? WHAT BS!!!!!!!!

    October 9, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. a slozomby

    $400M , thats what pbs costs us. or 2 F-35's (pilots not included), maybe if exxon-mobile or GE paid taxes we'd be able to afford it.

    October 9, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. Tom

    I think Sesame Workshop is correct in asking Obama to take down the ad. If they want to maintain political neutrality (in spite of the right's protests to the contrary) they can't endorse a candidatel. That said, I don't think Big Bird was ever going to become the cornerstone of Obama's campaign. It was a quick jab at Romney. The Obama people got their mileage (and press coverage) out of the ad. I'm sure they'll obediently take it down. It served its purpose.

    October 9, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. lnd72

    All this talk of Big Bird missed the excellent point that Romney made for once. He said we should make decisions about what the government funds based on asking the question "is it worth borrowing money from China" to do it.

    October 9, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  11. MessiahNoMO

    I wish President Obama were not so ridiculous. He seems like he has gone over the edge with his smart aleck looney comments on Big Bird. When will he act more Presidential... when will our President GROW UP ???

    October 9, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. Mandy

    Hilarious desperation. The Fonz jumped the shark, Obama just jumped the Big Bird. Obama belongs on Sesame street. Romney belongs at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

    If only Obama cared as much for our consulate in Libya as much as Big Bird, we might not have a dead ambassador with an Al Qaeda flag flying over our embassy.

    October 9, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. Brad O'Neill

    Maybe if we all just stepped back and realized that all those toys featuring big bird are making someone rich. Someone who gets free air time paid by us the american public. Big Bird wont disappear if romney is elected, he will be the same loveable tool of capitalism he has always been. he just will have to pay his own rent on television. Like Dora, Diego, Pocoyo and the rest of really great kids programming.

    October 9, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. Chipster

    Romney actually said, " have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird" Wasn't it Romney who thought Big Bird was important enough to bring into the debate?

    October 9, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. Pete

    To all you pleased in voting Romney,then take responsibility for the carnage that Bush gave us or stay off the sites,your ignorence is not welcomed here!!He's another so called businessman your grasping at that's promised to save America from the angry black president ,right!Hopefully he'll be trounced in Novembers election by this same black man,the intelligent one so we don't have to see if this Mormon moron just has what it takes,thank God for elections and democracy something the republicans have tried to destroy for years in voter supression and voters fraud,you've wrote the book so you'll give it another try won't yah!!

    October 9, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. gee

    Stupid Romney started this mess. Let him live with the results.

    October 9, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. open400

    Look at Romney's arrogance: He is basically telling Jim Lerher from PBS he won;t have a job anymore.

    October 9, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Liz

    To bad Obama wasn't as concerned about the Fast and Furious, deaths,or the deaths of the Ambassador, and our troops. Or 23 million out of work. the list is endless. Instead he finds it funny to be cutting spending. He is one arrogant empty suit. What a fool, he should go rap with Snoop Doog, and Jay Z, Obama has not worked this hard in 4 years. Thats why we are in so much trouble. He is lazy, whats he want 4 more years for? To travel and rap on our tax dollars.

    October 9, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. MikeRight

    Hey Chipster, if you think Romney's plan is so bad, where is the realistic plan from Obama and the Democrats. How long since Democrats in Congress have passed a budget? Four years? Everything Obama has presented is purely political and not realistic at all.

    October 9, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  20. The Cleanup Crew

    B ig Bird to mini-me romineee: I eat morons for breakfast.
    A llow me to call you "chicken" lil romney
    R uffle my feathers, and I'll ruffle your hair do.
    A ttack winged creatures, and we'll wing you, in the mouth.
    C hickens are PEOPLE too
    K aBOOm, there flies mini-me romneyeee from his horse.

    O hhhhh how fun
    B usted your plans, lil mitt.
    A ll creatures small and tall
    M orons should stay home an live off their off-shore accounts
    A ll's well, no go home, children, you too, lil mitt, go play in your bank accounts.

    October 9, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. NoTax

    Guess, big Bird probably doesn't want to join liberals and islamists in theirs "go out" of my country free trip in the winter 2012

    October 9, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. DC Observer

    Let's see - 23 million people out of work; another 10 million have given up; 16 trillion in debt; foreclosures; and President Obama is focused on Big Bird. That speaks volumes about Obama and his inabaility to run on his recordor the state of nation, and this behavior is no accident -

    " 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," Candidate Barack Obama 2008

    October 9, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  23. mj

    All Obama is advertising is how Big Bird will suffer. A multi-million corporation that could pay their own bills. How sad that he doesn't even mention the Economy or problems with the Eastern World. Just shows how desperate he is. Too bad he can't sign an Executive Order to let children vote.

    October 9, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. Lisa P



    If only Obama cared as much for our consulate in Libya as much as Big Bird, we might not have a dead ambassador with an Al Qaeda flag flying over our embassy.
    October 9, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm
    Maybe you should talk to the members of Congress who voted against fully funding the North African security initiative because they wanted to prove what deficit hawks they were, and how ready they were to sink good and necessary programs in order to make President Obama look bad. Until four Americans get killed, needlessly. Remember that for every finger a Tea Partier points at President Obama over what happened in Benghazi, three more are pointing back at them, and rightly so. I hope they choke on the pennies they saved.

    October 9, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. Nick

    The question is: Should we borrow money fron China to give to public broadcasting for shows like Big Bird?

    October 9, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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