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 203.

    Oh please this is actually funny and close enough to the truth about American politics, that even the president is a puppet of the corporation’s, why not have coke/pepsi + ads on big screens for sports clothing on the white house itself, the use of a well-known, character that has made a mint for its owners that are political donors is not wrong, in any case it may as well have been Mickey Mouse

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    So in other words the American voter has two stark choices on 6 November. Either keep the staus quo that you have now, or go straight back to how the country was 4 years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    We need Cabbage De Niro to sort these muppets right out...

    (warning: may contain LULZ and mild cartoon violence)

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    The banking fiasco didn't happen with just one president. Go back a few more years and you'll see how greed lets one president to turn a blind eye and another to follow suit for another eight years. The people, who are responsible, are also employed by the current president... US is going to down the bog if they keep using the current model to select a president!

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    The Ad is about as rational as a US presidential campaign gets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    Seriously, guys? I must be the only one who thought this ad was hilarious!

    It not only mocks Mitt Romney's ridiculous statement (and political ideas, but that's another conversation), but it also makes fun of how dramatic and stupid "negative" political ads are.

    This ad is the best ad Obama's done so far.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    ... This just in: Based on the 2012 budget its only 49 minutes, they only need to give up one lunch break!

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    190. Matthew Slyman
    @14: "PBS funding is $450m p.a., a sum which funds the Pentagon for 6 hours."
    — Let's shut down The Pentagon for 6 hours each year then and see what happens...

    Actually, based on the 2010 budget its more like 1 Hour, 21 minutes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    190."Let's shut down The Pentagon for 6 hours each year then and see what happens..."

    The end of civilisation as we know it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    Didn't the last Republican President start two wars and allowed banking fraud under his watch?

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    Have to laugh really as American politics of late is predictive, reason, just watch the West Wing series and you see similarities over the years of that great series with US potitics of late, it was only in the very last series we had the Presidential hopeful "Mat Santos" and his campaign use a Chicken to say the opposition was to chicken to debate!

  • 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.

  • Comment number 191.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    @14: "PBS funding is $450m p.a., a sum which funds the Pentagon for 6 hours."
    — Let's shut down The Pentagon for 6 hours each year then and see what happens...

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    @180 'Jan-Ann'
    Don't forget that American politics has an effect on the UK and the rest of the world in a multitude of ways.

    Perhaps America is isolationist - it's time for American citizens to grow up and find a better way to expand growth rather than allowing their Presidents to start wars?

    Economies of China/Russia/India have boomed, since GW started wars in Iraq/Afghanistan sapping taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    180. Well gee, I guess you'll just have to restrict yourself to The Entire Rest Of The Internet then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    180. Jan-Ann
    "Who in the UK gives a toss about a US publicity stunt? It's not important, to anybody.
    Why isn't the HYS about the UK's politicians? That's what we want to give our opinions about."

    Cameron probably wants to know who his next leader will be.

    The BBC makes money from advertising, HSY is online in the US now. I thought is was only Americans who were supposed to be so parochial.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    PBS is not the issue. The United States failed to pass the 2.0 mark this year in gross domestic product rate. Mitt Romney will open trade to China and other nations for technology. America needs national revenue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    Obama's use of Big Bird for his campaign shows what he really thinks about his supporters - dumb clucks who'll lap up his gimmicks & empty bluster.

    What amazes me is that even the educated bobos ("bourgeois bohemians", the US equivalent of Guardian readers) lap up this tosh.

    Like Socrates says in Pato's 'Gorgias', political rhetoric is like candy, to fool the tastebuds of the stupid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    Bad decisions and risky actions are more frequent when we sense we are failing.


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