President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has enlisted a television icon in a political ad mocking Republican candidate Mitt Romney. The tongue-in-cheek commercial compares 'Sesame Street' character Big Bird to capitalist malefactors such as Bernie Madoff who were prosecuted for financial misdealing. "Bernie Madoff. Ken Lay. Dennis Kozlowski: Criminals. Gluttons of greed. And the evil genius who towered over them?" a voiceover says as Big Bird emerged onto the screen. "Big. Yellow. A menace to our economy. Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it’s Sesame Street," the ad says. The ad was approved by the president himself, who speaks at the beginning of the ad.
The video also plays a clip of former Massachusetts governor Romney vowing "to stop the subsidy to PBS." During his debate with President Obama, Romney said if elected he would cut funding to PBS, home to “Sesame Street,” as an example of one measure he would take to reduce the deficit.
Admired and loved by millions of children worldwide, 'Big Bird' himself was apparently not amused. According to a statement on the Sesame Street website, the producers of the Sesame Street program have asked for the ad to be removed. The statement said, "Sesame Workshop Response to Campaign Ads - Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down."
Defenders of public broadcasting have decried Romney's call for an end to government funding, even though it amounts to only a small part its overall funding. Other observers have pointed out that by avoiding government funding, PBS and National Public Radio would thus avoid interference from politicians bent on changing the two broadcasting organizations' programs.