The Obama campaign released an ad Tuesday attacking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his campaign promise to stop government funding to Big Bird and PBS. The ad mockingly compared the Sesame Street character to the likes of Bernie Madoff and Ken Lay, suggesting Romney found Big Bird to be as threatening to the American economy as the white collar criminals.
Big Bird has unexpectedly been morphed into a political symbol after Romney referenced the yellow bird in last week's presidential debate in connection with his promise to eliminate funding for public broadcasting network PBS, which airs the children's program. Conservatives have criticized President Barack Obama for focusing on Big Bird in the midst of a struggling economy and an increasingly volatile Middle East, saying it points to the president's growing campaign desperation.
The election is less than four weeks away, and Obama's poll numbers slipped following a weak performance in the debate. Romney has been regarded as the winner of the match-up; his performance providing him with a post-debate bounce that has all but eliminated Obama's advantage of the last several weeks.
U.S. News contributing editor Peter Roff says the ad shows how Obama's campaign has been thrown into disarray by his unimpressive performance in the debate, and the new polls showing Romney pulling ahead indicate voters are finally realizing it's time to make a change in leadership. He also says the president clearly doesn't understand the gravity of the country's economic situation:
It's one thing to protect public broadcasting in a time of economic prosperity; it's quite another when joblessness is at near record levels for the post-war period and people are afraid for their future.
At a campaign stop yesterday in Iowa, Romney too said the ad demonstrated the misguided focus of the Obama campaign.
"You have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird," Romney said. "I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs."
The Obama campaign defended its use of the iconic character and said Romney's intent to cut PBS funding shows he doesn't have a substantive plan for reducing the deficit. A campaign spokeswoman for the president said:
We understand that when your policy plan is a vapid collection of dusting off the Bush playbook on economic policies that would lead us to the same crisis we just have been going through, and embracing the extreme, out-of-the-mainstream foreign policy positions that have also caused us problems, as the Romney-Ryan team has, that you don't have a lot to talk about, you're going to attack us on Big Bird … You'll hear the president today continue to lay out the choice and talk about all the substantive policy issues that we think people are making their decisions about.
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