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. guest

    stop this talk about Big Bird. This has been blown way out of proportion. The dude was citing as an example. Do we always need to get sensational about everything ? Geez.

    October 10, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. AmericanPie

    Mitt Romney changes his story every day. He stands in front of a John Deere Tractor and American Flag to try and get Middle Class America to identify with him. That still does not erase the 47% comment he made behind closed doors.

    October 10, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  3. eroteme

    What a wonderful break for Team Obama and Obama! The Big Bird (and reduced PBS funding plan) is great! Obama gets a break from having to discuss his past four years, they can discuss PBS funding and the Big Bird instead, and his supporting press guus willl milk this along with him. It would be nice if Romney were to criticize apple pie and complain about giving women the vote but this may be wishing for too much. Meanwhile Romney is doing quite well considering he has yet to answer the Democrat charge of being a murderer and a felon as well as his less than ideal high school conduct.

    October 10, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  4. Larry in Houston

    Ohio – hope you get it right this time, like you have ever since you became a state – I know you guys are the 17th State to enter the Union. NO republican has Ever got elected, without OHIO .

    May the Best Man Win

    October 10, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  5. blake

    It appears that Big Bird and PBS do not have an entitlement perspective on life. Surprised and pleased.

    October 10, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  6. Nate

    How can Romney save jobs by firing PBS employees?

    October 10, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. truth hurts

    The Obama administration is VERY CONCERNED about Big Bird and wants to send hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to PBS to fund Big Bird.

    But in Libya, our diplomats requested additional security after numerous attacks and were DENIED and ignored. Now we have 4 dead Americans including our ambassador. And they LIE about all of it.

    Honestly, the insanity and sheer incompetence of the Obama administration is mind boggling. WAKE UP AMERICA.. People are DYING from Obama's incompetence!!

    October 10, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. jeremy

    I hate that annoying yellow thing. Had to watch it for several years until the kids grew out of it.

    October 10, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. kelvin

    how can anyone think its the governments responsibility to fund a television station and show like sesame street? I didnt realize till a few days ago how dumb 47% of america is.

    October 10, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  10. eroteme

    Obama and the Big Bird is a bit embarrassing for PBS. It exposes their liberal political orientation. They don't like this exposure, they have fairly successfully kept it below the surface for years.

    October 10, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  11. Ken

    I am so tired of Obama not speaking to the issues and talking about what he is going to do for the country. Instead he all caught up about a joke about big bird. You have lost your focus. This is the last straw for me. This democrat is voting for Romney.

    October 10, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Fact

    President Obama has been addressing the real issues from the beginning. Regardless of your political leaning you have to admit former Governor Romney touched off a nerve with this silly comment. REMINDER: FACEBOOK OR TWITTER (can recall which one) WENT CRAZY WHEN ROMNEY MENTION PBS AND, YES, BIG BIRD. But I do think President Obama should now come back to the REAL ISSUE: Which candidate will have us better off four years from now? (Stable and growing economy; opportunities for every citizen to pursue the American Dream, More jobs, Women's rights, Safe Nation, etc.).

    October 10, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. sirock

    obamas pissed off because this is the only TV program that challanges him! He's almost got that fuzzy math thng down pat

    October 10, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  14. Jersey Girl

    "Your choice now is pretty clear. You can either vote for the guy who got rid of bin Laden or vote for the guy who wants to get rid of Big Bird." – David Letterman

    I have to agree with American Pie – Willard is phony, dishonest, tax-evading draft dodger. Can't people see how totally phony and a flip-flopper he was at the first debate? HOW CAN PEOPLE BE SO GULLIBLE ABOUT THIS GUY? Sheesh....

    October 10, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Big Bird should never have been dragged into this.

    Former Governor Romney should never open the door to this discussion. My guess is that Romney was trying to be relatable, but he actual touched a nerve in America. He really should have chosen a real example of something he would cut that would make a difference in the deficit. People will judge Romney on what he says now and on the campaign trail. It will speak to his character.

    October 10, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  16. TiredODaCrap

    WOW – CNN won't even post comments questioning Big Bird's appearance on the real news pages, while Stacey Dash's being bashed by her own race is pushed to the Entertainment page. Any other celebrity backing Obama, or Reps ripping a young, black woman for her choice of president would have been all over the front page of
    Still, it shows CNN pathetic leaning and unbalanced reporting, as well as the true reason that Obama is in office now. Sure, he didn't get voted in solely because of the color of skin (forget that he's still 1/2 white)! The hatefilled Tweets and posts about this poor girl are the actions – speaking much louder than any words!

    October 10, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. Chris in MN

    Team Obama will review their concerns??!! Really? Using a copyrighted image without permission is against the law. Even the shadow of a very recognizable image. I thought Obama was a lawyer.

    October 10, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. teb0504

    Big Bird make enough money that the tax payers should not have to contribute period!!! Both politicians lie – get over yourself and stop letting politicians tell you how to vote. Sit down and look at FACTS!!!!

    October 10, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. A True Centrist


    How can Romney save jobs by firing PBS employees?"

    Let me introduce Nate, the face of the entitlement society. Nate, do you think all other channels get government funding? No...then how do they exist? How could they possibly function without government money, and how do they actually employ people? I will give you some time to ponder these very difficult questions. Please feel free to reply if and when you figure out the solution to this complex question.

    October 10, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  20. Kiss

    I hope mitt brings up the fact that PBS is making money hand over fist with thier merchandise, that we don't need to borrow from china to fund a multi-million dollar corp. and Mitt please bring up benjazi, and we didnt build it. I hope he nails Obama

    October 10, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  21. Bob

    truth hurts

    The Obama administration is VERY CONCERNED about Big Bird and wants to send hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to PBS to fund Big Bird.

    But in Libya, our diplomats requested additional security after numerous attacks and were DENIED and ignored. Now we have 4 dead Americans including our ambassador. And they LIE about all of it.

    Honestly, the insanity and sheer incompetence of the Obama administration is mind boggling. WAKE UP AMERICA.. People are DYING from Obama's incompetence!!
    Is that you, Mitt? It sures sounds like you: No facts.

    October 10, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. guest

    I like most Americans am following as closely as possible thr rhetoric being broadcast by all networks, on the election issues. I find it highly critical that all the blame for the Nations economic woes are being focused on one office. That being the White House. No one is stating the obvious, the Whiet House alone does not govern this Democracy. Is the country only governed by the Executive Branch, is the country only governed by the Legislative Branch, is the country only governed by the Judicial Branch. The answer is supposed to be No. If sometihng is wrong how can it be put on the shoulders of only one office of our government. If fingers are to be pointed then the fingers need to point to eveyone who has the responsibility to make our Country/Nation mor effective not just the Executive Branch. The Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch need to be included in the rhetoric, that acusses only one office of our government.

    October 10, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. Boytjie

    PBS is certainly on the table for cuts. as one poster said above, if they had not included so many left leaning programs, Sesame Street would not even been considered.
    So it is not really about saving money, it is about silencing PBS!

    October 10, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  24. Kiss

    Obama why are you not letting the military vote?

    October 10, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  25. Name

    Obama has lost his way.

    October 10, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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