The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Entertainment

October 10, 2012

Big Bird flies high in 2012 presidential campaign

(Continued)

The satiric Obama campaign ad, set to air on national broadcast and cable stations, echoes that theme. The ad shows images of convicted financiers including Bernie Madoff and Enron's Ken Lay, and suggests Romney believes Big Bird is responsible for their crimes.

"Big, yellow, a menace to our economy," the ad says. "Mitt Romney knows it's not Wall Street you have to worry about, it's Sesame Street."

While Romney's comment drew criticism from PBS the day after the debate, the Sesame Workshop, which supports "Sesame Street" and other public broadcasting shows, demanded that Obama's campaign remove the ad.

"Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns," the organization said in a terse, two-sentence statement. "We have approved no campaign ads and, as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down."

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said the campaign was reviewing the organization's concerns.

Romney, campaigning in Iowa, dismissed the Big Bird ad as inconsequential and suggested Obama was focusing on trivial matters rather than the economy and high unemployment.

"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 told a cheering crowd. "I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs and saving our future."

With his newfound political celebrity, Big Bird has emerged as the latest star in a campaign proxy war over a larger policy issue.

In 2008, Joe Wurzelbacher, or "Joe the Plumber," set off a proxy battle over tax policy when he asked Obama about his tax plan for small business. Obama's videotaped reply, in which he told Wurzelbacher that "when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody," prompted Republican John McCain to seize the statement as evidence that Obama supported socialist tax policies. Obama doubled down on his argument that higher income earners should be taxed more than the middle class.

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