NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York-based Sesame Workshop was not pleased Tuesday with an Obama campaign ad featuring the voice of Big Bird.
“Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns,” the Sesame Workshop said in a statement. “We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down.”
The campaign ad took Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney to task for comments he made during the debate last week, in which he said while he likes Big Bird, he wants to end the small federal subsidy for public broadcasting.
Following a statement of approval by President Obama, the ad began with a narrator who menacingly invoked Bernie Madoff, Kenneth Lay and Dennis Kozlowski as “gluttons of greed,” and said only “one man has the guts” to speak the name of the “evil genius who towers over them.” Afterward, Romney was heard saying “Big Bird” in three clips, and Big Bird himself said, “It’s me, Big Bird.”
Obama has been laying into Romney for the Big Bird remark ever since the debate. CBS News reported last Thursday, the president told a crowd in Denver, “Thank God someone is getting tough on Big Bird. … We didn’t know Big Bird was driving the deficit.”
Romney spokeswoman Amanda Hennenberg issued a response to the ad, telling CBS News that back in 2008, “Obama said if you don’t have a record to run on, ‘you make a big election about small things.’” She told CBS News with the state of the economy, unemployment and other serious problems, “Americans deserve more from their president.”
But while asking for the ad to come down, the Sesame Workshop — known previously as the Children’s Television Workshop — did address the public perception about federal funding directed toward public broadcasting.
The Sesame Workshop’s Sherrie Westin cited a recent CNN poll that revealed 7 percent of the American public think that PBS gets up to half the U.S. budget in funding and that 30 percent of those surveyed think PBS receives 5 percent of the budget.
“In reality, it’s 0.014 percent,” she wrote.
And Big Bird himself has not been completely silent on the issue. This past Saturday, the 8-foot 2-inch avian appeared on Saturday Night Live – manned by his 78-year-old original performer, Caroll Spinney.
In the appearance on “Weekend Update” with Seth Meyers, Big Bird declined to comment on Romney’s remark, saying he didn’t want to “ruffle any feathers.”
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