Sesame Street urges Obama campaign to drop Big Bird ad

A person dressed up as Big Bird outside the Romney headquarters in New Hampshire on 8 October 2012 The Obama team has sent activists in Big Bird costumes to Romney campaign events

The creators of Big Bird have called on the Obama campaign to withdraw a new advertisement that uses the character in an attack on rival Mitt Romney.

The ad mocks the Republican candidate for singling out the public broadcaster behind Sesame Street for spending cuts.

Mr Romney said in a presidential debate last week that he would slash funding to PBS, despite liking Big Bird.

Opinion polls suggest Mr Romney has hit Mr Obama's lead after the Republican's strong debate performance.

With election day looming on 6 November, the two White House rivals campaigned on Tuesday in the key election swing state of Ohio.

Big yellow menace?

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind the long-running children's show, said in a statement that it was a nonpartisan organisation.

"We do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns," the organisation said.

The first opinion polls after the big debate make uncomfortable reading for President Obama. But polls are only snapshots. What matters is a trend, not a single figure.

Others wonder whether using Big Bird in an ad is a sign of Democratic desperation. That is rather over the top too: it's not chicken to run an internet advert that gets greater exposure because it's funny and the sort of thing people talk and tweet about.

The Obama campaign has to hit hard. My instinct is that the debate does matter. If you are judging the candidates purely on the debate, purely on who you would want to argue your case if you were on death row, there wasn't much doubt who showed the most conviction and passion. This time next week, the president will have a lot to prove in the second debate.

"We have approved no campaign ads and, as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down."

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said the campaign was considering the request.

The US government partially funds PBS and National Public Radio, both targets of conservative politicians.

Mr Obama has used Mr Romney's comments in their first debate to attack the Republican candidate's spending priorities.

The advertisement pokes fun at Mr Romney with clips of him mentioning Big Bird and PBS throughout the campaign.

"One man has the guts to say his name," says the ad, flashing to Mr Romney and then the feathered character.

"Big. Yellow. A menace to our economy. Mitt Romney knows it's not Wall Street you have to worry about. It's Sesame Street."

A Romney spokesman accused the Obama campaign on Tuesday of not focusing on serious issues.

"I just find it troubling that the president's message, the president's focus 28 days from election day, is Big Bird," Kevin Madden told reporters.

The latest Reuters poll suggests Mr Romney has erased Mr Obama's advantage with voters on a range of issues, including the economy.

A Pew Research Center poll indicated Mr Romney was leading the president by four points.

And according to a Gallup poll, Mr Romney was at 49% to Mr Obama's 47% among likely voters. However, Mr Obama was leading in the same survey among registered voters.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    They keep the masses running circles with minutiae in the hope that we can't see (or forget about) the real big bird in the room.

    It’s a big black vulture called debt and it won’t stop until it’s picked everyone’s bones clean.

    Neither candidate has the ability to stop it in its tracks so, like Nero, they will fiddle while Rome burns.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Democrats, shame on you. Sesame Workshop have stated a non-partisan position and thus they have prima facie used onther persons intellectual property without their permission - which is theft! I hope the originators of this ad, those people who approved it and those who propogated it have been sacked, and a high profile public apology from the party for using other peoples IP without permission.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Why has it come to this for Obama?, he has failed America and he can't defend his economic record. Romney may be prone to gaffes but as the 2002 winter olympics showed, is a competent leader

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Conviction and passion in a debate are important but if your pulling in the wrong direction it counts for nothing. Making Big Bird+public services worship at the altar of profit and commerce implies a policy that sees no value in good work for its own sake. When $s become your moral guide and low taxes for the few counts more than medicine for the sick then imho you pulling in the wrong direction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    America needs to ask itself whether it wants a careful, thoughtful President with a sense of humour, or a kneejerk President with contempt for half it's population.

    And as for Big Bird, he can sit on the fence (as long as it is strong enough)


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