FILE - This Aug. 30, 2009 file photo shows Big Bird, of the children's television show Sesame Street, in Los Angeles. Big Bird is endangered. Jim Lehrer lost control. And Mitt Romney crushed President Barack Obama. Those were the judgments rendered across Twitter and Facebook Wednesday during the first debate of the 2012 presidential contest. While millions turned on their televisions to watch the 90-minute showdown, a smaller but highly engaged subset took to social networks to discuss and score the debate as it unspooled in real time. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
I’ll bet Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wishes he’d never brought up Big Bird during Wednesday’s presidential debate against Pres. Obama.
He told moderator Jim Lehrer, “I’m sorry Jim. I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m gonna stop other things. I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I actually like you, too.”
The Twittersphere immediately took notice, recording 17,000 tweets per minute on the topic during the debate. Facebook and other social media were abuzz about Big Bird's future as well. Watching the debate from his home in Philadelphia, Derek Lee Porter, owner of D&J Costumes and Entertainment in the Northeast, saw an opportunity. On Monday, he’s planning a mock protest with people dressed in Elmo and other Sesame Street characters in front of his store at 7516 Frankford Ave. from noon to 4 p.m. He told me they’ll be carrying signs saying things such as, “Romney wants to take our jobs.”
Why exactly is he doing this? After all, even though the Corporation for Public Broadcasting gets over $400 million in subsidies from the federal government, it's not as if Big Bird is really in any danger. Sesame Workshop, which produces Sesame Street, is a separate, entity from PBS which airs its programming. Besides, after all these years, Americans love Big Bird too much to just let him go.
According to the Washington Post, Obama has seized on Romney's Big Bird remark, saying “When he was asked what he’d actually do to cut spending and reduce the deficit, his big example is to go after public television.
“So, for all you moms and kids out there, don’t worry — someone is finally getting tough on Big Bird. Rounding him up," Obama said. "Elmo has got to watch out, too. Governor Romney plans to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s going to bring down the hammer on ‘Sesame Street.’ It makes perfect sense.”
Closer to home, Porter thinks it's all big fun - not to mention a chance for him to get some publicity in advance of the all-important Halloween shopping season.
“It’s just really hilarious that following a presidential debate that this is what everyone is talking about,” Porter said.