Feathers ruffled, Big Bird stays in post-debate political spotlight

The debate wasn’t even brought to you by the letter “d” or #1″, but who knew a day after the first presidential debate that a famous bird on Sesame Street would still be a topic on the campaign trail, driving political dialogue and becoming a hit on social media.

PBS’ Big Bird was able to do just that, after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney inserted him into an economic point in the debate in Denver Wednesday night.

President Obama kept the dialogue going Thursday, using Romney’s example of what he would possibly cut if we are spending and then borrowing money from China.

“I just want to make sure I got this straight. He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he’s going to crack down on Sesame Street. Thank goodness somebody is finally cracking down on Big Bird. Who knew that he was responsible for all these deficits? Elmo has got to watch out,” Obama said at a rally in Madison, Wisconsin.

Obama’s jokes to the college audience were definitely a crowd-pleaser, but also somewhat out of context, as Romney was statement about the economy and getting into further debt and having to borrow money from China.

Romney first said he’d repeal Obama’s health care law and then, the childhood icon came into play. “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird,” Romney said.

“But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for. That’s number one. Number two, I’ll take programs that are currently good programs but I think could be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to the state,” the republican nominee added.

Lehrer, the moderator of the debate, is also a PBS news anchor and Romney was sure to add he likes Lehrer too in addition to Big Bird.

The topic of the big fluffy character even made it to a press conference at the Pentagon. Asked to respond to Romney’s comment, Pentagon Spokesman George Little said, “Without getting into recent references in high profile settings to Sesame Street I will say that we have had a long lasting and effective partnership with Sesame Street and they have supported military children, but I’m not going to get into politics here. I wouldn’t want to ruffle any feathers.”

Social media immediately picked up on the Big Bird reference Wednesday night as various hashtags were created along with mocking pictures and posters passed around on networking sites.

PBS issued a press release Thursday expressing they didn’t necessarily like what was said during the debate. “We are very disappointed that PBS became a political target in the Presidential debate last night. Governor Romney does not understand the value the American people place on public broadcasting and the outstanding return on investment the system delivers to our nation. We think it is important to set the record straight and let the facts speak for themselves,” the station said.

Adding their defense of the famous fowl, ” For more than 40 years, Big Bird has embodied the public broadcasting mission – harnessing the power of media for the good of every citizen, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay.”

Apparently several television shows including “Good Morning America, the “Today” show and Jimmy Fallon all requested Big Bird to appear on their shows, but Sesame Street representatives declined the appearances, according to the Associated Press.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CBP) gets a few hundred million dollars in federal funding that are spread through its various member stations, and PBS receives a little more than $20 million of that.

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