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. citizenvetus

    Legal owners of the “Muppets” allowing the character’s to be use in a political campaign ad, is a breach of series application and misuse of it’s core existence

    October 9, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. Eric

    I find it funny that Romney calls out the President about jobs, then says he going to create millions of new jobs, but pull funding for programs... which will create job losses... So what are you for... job losses or gains Mitt?
    His circular logic is amusing.

    October 9, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. Vader

    While wickedly humorous and spot on as far as Romney's lack of understanding of the importance of a non-commercial and independent platform for programming, I do see PBS' point about remaining non-partisan and apolitical, so the ads using any Sesame Street (or PBS) iconography or characters should be taken down.

    October 9, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. MaryM

    Mitt, America is NOT a corporation and it can not be run like a business. You, Mitt cant just Fire American workers to cut the debt or deficit. Shame on you Mitt for wanting to cut Sesame Street

    October 9, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. rinkrat0147

    They are going to run the ad even after Sesame Street said they could not use a copyrighted character. Just goes to show you that the Dem's have no respect for personal property or the governing rules that the rest of us have to live by.

    October 9, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. CBR

    President Obama and his team are reacting to Mr. Romney's statements about Big Bird and Sesame Street. Unfortunately Mr. Romney chose to politicize the PBS program when he used Big Bird in his speech about ending government backing of PBS. It was an attention grabber because the truth is the amount of money given to PBS is miniscule. Ending support will not make a big difference. It is a symbolic gesture for those conservatives who want to make huge cuts to the budget. However, none of those cuts are being made to budget items that help to keep big corporations from making big projects. Those who have had huge contracts for the war effort will not see their contracts cut or see their profits reduced. This is proof that Mr. Romney is fired by big business which will continue to influence him should he become president.

    Mr. Romney needs to make cuts elsewhere. PBS had outlets in areas which could not support to keep the local PBS stations afloat. You know areas that have large populations of the 47%. This is one time when I will say shame on Mr. Romney for using the character of Big Bird to further his interests.

    Did you and your children watch Sesame Street? I did with all of my sons. We had fun together and as they grew up the boys would tune in to see what was new on Sesame Street. When my grandchildren were old enough to view TV they watched Sesame Street. We even got to watch with them. There is nothing better than watching a child's reaction to the characters both humans and puppets. Are we ready to have someone pull the plug for few million dollars?

    October 9, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. NameGoose

    I hope Romney wins! Another four years of Obama/Biden would totally destroy our country. The past debate shows us how friggin stuid Obama is. Know wonder our country is in such a mess!

    October 9, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Jo

    This is why I actually like Sesame Street- because its goal is to help Americans without getting carried away in some political messages or views. Too bad PBS has to make these great programs suffer by including so many left-leaning programs on its show instead of following Sesame Street's lead and being balanced or non-political. If it did, we wouldn't have to worry about conservatives trying to pull out funding from PBS (this is completely different than shutting down PBS, which Obama is trying to portray, because he has little else he can talk about).

    October 9, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  9. Matt

    What, the Constitutional Law professor didn't know that using Big Bird was a COPYRIGHT violation???!!!

    October 9, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  10. Greg

    Enough already. We get the point of what Mitt was saying. But stop saying 'borrowing from China.' China does not own the majority of our debt. That we have to borrow from any country is sad considering we give away so much money. The last statistic I read stated that China owns about 9% of U.S. debt.

    October 9, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. FrankA

    Big Bird will be fine. He'll probably go into retirement at his home in the Bahamas.

    October 9, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. DustyOnes

    If Big Bird is so popular and needed, then why doesn't NBC or ABC or FOX or CBS run the show?

    October 9, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. Dejavu65

    The truth is we ALL don't really know what Romney will do but support the super Rich like his buddy Donald Trump and Wall st with less deregulations which got us in this recession in the first place.... Do you notice how all the super super rich people say its important for Romney to win.....Truth is this race would not even be close if Obama was white if you really think about what Romney REALLY stands for.......1) Only candidate in over 40 yrs that will not show past 10 tax returns(because he has avoided taxes, offshore acct, etc). 2) He will not extend middle class tax cuts after they expire in 2013 but will extend Bush era tax cuts for the rich. 3) He degraded and looks down upon 47% of the country when talking to other rich folks, thats how he really feels about us. 4) He was a part of Bain capital that outsourced jobs. Yes look at the documents he was still CEO. 5) He blatantly lies and flip flops without even changing his face with no remorse 6) His has not really showed his policies because he can't there is no realistic way he can protect the middle class and fulfill all those blank promises. 6) He basically wants to go to war with Iran and possibly Russian and tax the middle class more by spending billions or trillions more for wars.....If any other candidate in the history of the US stood on these position they would be down by at least 30 points in all polls...I can't believe people will actually want to give up such a percentage of there paycheck each month to this man and the GOP!....Everything this man has preached the past 18 months until last Weds will destroy the middle class WAKE UP!!

    October 9, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. wolfpackbob

    It is The Economy, Mr. President. Your Economy, Mr. President. You built that.

    October 9, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Name Penguin

    Sorry Big Bird, you are a public figure. Any one can use your name and image just like you can use Obama's or Romney's

    October 9, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Ready

    I'm Big Bird and I don't approve this message!!

    October 9, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. Babyboomer

    The campaign needs to move on from this anyway. I personally am ready to see "The Angry Black Man" that everyone seems so scared of. Time to take the gloves off Mr. President. Tell Romney, the "Birthers", the "Tea Party" and all of the other disrespectful folks what you really think of their lies and distortions of your record. Know that your supporters have your back. We will be there on Nov. 6th... Obama/Biden 2012...

    October 9, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. Michael B.

    Honestly, the point Romney was trying to make was that a lot of little things add up to a substantial amount. As a republican, I know that what he said was cringe-worthy because of people who take statements and make it appear as if he's out of touch. The fact is, if the government doesn't start cutting every little non-important thing, then the country will continue in a downward spiral of debt.

    October 9, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Kirk in michigan

    Ifind it discouragingwhen the election comes down to the last minute undeciders, theese are exactly the ones who should not vote, you should know what your party, candidate stands for by now. its like the tap on the mat at a boxing match that signifies 10 seconds left in the last round, .. wrong time to tune in. when all the haymakers are being thrown. worst time to assume your getting the truth, if you dont know.....

    October 9, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. Tprince

    This ad is the best he can come up with? sad... I guess he has nothing else to run on so he pulls the bird out . The only thing left is ,"Lier, Lier, pants on fire"... wait they have used that.

    October 9, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. Mark

    LOVE the way Sesame Street mis covering it's rear in this. The skewed polls are now showing what was suspected all along, that Romney is connecting with voters and there is a huge backlash to Obama. 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. Speaking of left falling down...ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.... I certainly hope they will be considered for extinction! Sick of The Liberal Left and their re-education ideas. The crazy part is they have done all of this under the guise of simply "educating our children". Endoctrinating our kids is what they have done and so many parents have been alseep at the wheel and have nopt provided guidance to those children nor challenged those ridiculous ideas the left have blasted into our children. Luckily, my Dad did challenge stupidity with common sense and I have done the same. Mitt is on the right path and many other Americans too. Success is the path we all want, so lets follow a successful leader not one that has done nothing but talk all of his life!

    October 9, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    No need to worry about taking down the ad. If Romney is elected POTUS. he'd take pleasure in taking down the ad for ya and a whole lot more. Fools!

    October 9, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. Leede

    Big Bird is all they got since not even the Narcissist and Chief can defend their pitiful positions.

    October 9, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. i'm confused

    Mittens pathetic attempts to fabricate false perceptions are completely transparent. Describing Mittens behavior as flip flopping or using the etch a sketch analogy both fail to adequately describe the magnitude of this clown's complete lack of personal integrity... It's time to STOP SUGAR COATING IT, Mittens The Clown is a COMPULSIVE LIAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    FYI AMERICA – The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law defines Mitten's condition (i.e. "compulsive liar") as follows:

    "Falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime".

    October 9, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. myviewis

    Sesame Workshop is worth millions of dollars. They make plenty of money via the sale of licensing for toys, books, bedding, diapers, clothing, music, etc....

    I hope the Obama administration will respect the wishes of Sesame Workshop to not use Big Bird in their political campaign ads since Sesame Workshop stays out away from participating in political campaigns.

    October 9, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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