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. It's not just Big Bird that will get the ax

    Here's the point people: Romney will cut every program that helps the poor.

    October 9, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. LILLY

    The best way to revive the economy is to RAISE INTEREST RATE TO 10%.
    It may sound stupid, but that is the best solution.
    Before yelling at me, take a minute and think of it.
    Lot of money will be flowing to the United States' banks.
    America will be prosperous again!

    October 9, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. lindaluttrell

    Big Bird, you are fired!

    October 9, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. California Gary

    So the bird is biting the hand that feeds it? Go figure.......

    October 9, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Nostrathomas

    Cutting funding to PBS is a start and not the only thing Romney is suggesting we look at cutting. If it's a dollar saved, it's a dollar earned. Trim the fat and make a priority to identify what we need versus what we want. There's a difference and it's all the difference in making the unpopular choices that add up to a sense of frugality that has been laking in Washington for too long.

    October 9, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. ColorMaven

    Ameri2010 – "I guess he thinks using Trademark names and images, without permission and to mock others, is up for debate." I don't think that is the point. Sesame Workshop undermined the enforcibiltiy of their trademark when they proffered Big Bird up on SNL. They claimed he was not a tool to be used in any campaign, then they went and inserted him into the campaign of their own accord. Dumb on their part. They crossed a line and now the question is, legally, is BB fair game? (pun intended).

    October 9, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. Red

    There is not one American under the age of 60, who had not benefited from the programming on PBS. Whether being Sesame Street or Mister Rogers, whether for yourself or the child you were babysitting, PBS has been a staple in all the lives in America. Anytime you want to consider cutting funds for something, you look at the benefits provided by that service, and PBS has done more good than the "War On Drugs!" This programming is money well spent. Romney biggest problem with PBS is that is the oldest running programming that promotes multi-cultural interaction. Judging from the Republican convention...that is clear. Yet Romney, even with all his money, has attacked the wrong establishment this time. This attack will be his undoing, and all reading this must agree....NO ONE screws with ELMO!!!! So all you American voters, keep Elmo in your mind as you go to the polls. Remember the laughter and wholesome fun brought to you by Sesame Street. Only a very evil man would want to destroy that.

    October 9, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. CryBabies

    Could the Obama machine get any more childish or stoop lower than to think this is a relevant strategy. Axelrod is throwing anything he has at the Romney campaign to stay afloat. Pitiful.

    October 9, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. The REAL Truth...

    @Mona – Romney was correct and bold to say it to Jim's face.
    Get a grip girl.. your disgust is showing red! "bold"? Bold? Rude and typical Willard flip-flop approach. He did nothing but show his true colors in the debate in front of 70 million people, many of whom will hold him to what he said. Well, at least until he changes his mind again – oh wait, he already has on most of his ranting points.
    Reality is that killing PBS and Big Bird is like you throwing a quarter out the window. It's miniscule, irrelevant, mean spirited and chump change relative to other budgetary issue that need addressing. Obama calmly won the debate even while the terrier was yapping and spraying all over the place.
    To bad you right wingers did not get that Obama's responses during the debate were crafted to ensure that country got a good look at the pretender and see that the empty suit is a bobble-head!

    October 9, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. CBR

    Mr. Romney brought Big Bird onto the political arena. Now he would like us to be mad that Mr. Obama has used Big Bird in an ad. Once again Mr. Romney is not owning up to something. It happens quite frequently and it takes him an inordinately long amount of time to say he is wrong. In this case he would be hurting children and taking away a program which has helped to educate our very young. Way to go Mr. Romney! I am sure he still think that idea is funny just as you did when you made the original remark.

    October 9, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  11. Valar Morghulis

    Romney opened up this can of worms. This is not about Big Bird. It is about Romney's fundamental beliefs that anything associated with government is bad. Where is his call to eliminate huge subsidies for the wealthiest corporations?

    October 9, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Mack

    If people like Mitt would only pay their taxes then we would have money for bird bird and more. Mitt is one of the 47% that he despises lol

    October 9, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. SugarKube

    Team Obama is desperate ever since Romney cleaned Obama's clock in Denver.

    October 9, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. zisee

    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.

    October 9, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. Mack

    Why should Mitt care about big bird, he has a dancing pony(and a $77,000 tax deduction) lol

    October 9, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. Tree

    This was not a debate, yea Obama did not do well but Romney told lies after lies. That tell you where he stands with the 47%. Big bird don't want to be fire.........I voted for Obama and I will vote for him agian but he better put his game face on. Romney is winning people with LIES and i just cant believe that people are believing his LIES call him out.

    October 9, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. michd

    Romney said nothing special at the debate. How can you debate a liar when you don't know which side he is on. Romney has no new ideas to move the economy forward. Big Bird not only an American icon by also a world icon.

    October 9, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. Bryan F

    The so called Welfare for Big Oil and while we are at it also for Big Farm and other business’s you should see what Harry Reid has gotten the Mining Companies over the years. Al Gore is still getting Tobacco Subsidies I believe. The point is that there are alot of loopholes not just for some adorable 7 ft yellow canary. Alot of so called special interests, Romney / Ryan are going to put all of them up for review and possibly to be cut. While it is true that PBS “only” gets 756 million eventually these subsidies add up to real money and we have to start the conversation somewhere.

    October 9, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. Sarah

    I was wondering if there is a "Save our Big Bird" petition on line?

    October 9, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. Tony

    Doesn't look like the Big Bird strategy is working out too well for Obama...Today is the first day this year that the Real Clear Politics Poll of Polls shows Romney ahead.

    The tide has turned!

    October 9, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. ezduzit757

    Looks like Romney finally found something to get everyone to stop asking about his tax returns.

    October 9, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. michd

    The workers at BAIN and now BIG BIRD is about to be axed. Romney did say that he like to fire people. Perhaps the 12 million jobs Romney will create will be in China. Instead of outsourcing companies we will be outsourcing American in China and where every American's products are made around the world.

    October 9, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. Harmony

    I haven't heard fellow parents talk about Big Bird and Sesame Street in a long time. 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. More to the point, if there is still a strong following for Sesame Street and other PBS fare, then let the them suceed with a few commecials. What's the big deal about getting sponsers like everybody else? These TV shows do not merit welfare when our country is broke.

    October 9, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. American666

    When asked for specifics Mitt gave .0000013%. Republicans who vote for Mitt only know this much about their canidate; yet, they support Mitt 100%. Either you vote party, race, or against a plan that is working.

    October 9, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. Fair is Fair


    I wish big bird would fly back to his nest, after all this whinning from the sesame workshop when President Obama is re elected maybe he should look at cutting funding to big bird and all his crying workshop workers.
    So you agree with Romney. I see.

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