WASHINGTON, Oct 9, 2012 (AFP) - President Barack Obama's campaign hit Mitt Romney with a sarcastic new ad Tuesday, featuring the Big Bird children's character that has become an unlikely star of their bitter election clash.
"Mitt Romney knows it's not Wall Street you have to worry about, it's Sesame Street," the ad said, jokingly describing the furry yellow muppet as the "evil genius" towering over financial felons like Ken Lay and Bernie Madoff.
The spot plays off Romney's remark in last week's first presidential debate that he would stop state subsidies for PBS public television, which produces "Sesame Street," a long running early learning show on which Big Bird stars.
"Mitt Romney. Taking on our enemies, no matter where they nest," the announcer of the television ad, says pressing home Obama's contention that Romney would let Wall Street run wild.
The Romney campaign responded to the ad by circulating a quote from the 2008 campaign in which Obama said, "If you don't have a record to run on ... you make a big election about small things."
Republican Senator John McCain also jabbed Obama over the ad, saying "it may show a paucity of ideas and ways to criticize Mitt Romney."
"The fact is that the economy is still in very bad shape, and obviously the American people are still in very difficult conditions. And the one thing that President Obama can't run on in his record," McCain told NBC.
Romney said in the debate in Denver that "I like PBS. I like Big Bird," but nevertheless pledged to cut the subsidy for the station as part of spending reductions he plans if he is elected president in November.
Obama did not pick up on the comment during his lethargic debate performance, but has since made Big Bird, who helped many Americans to read as tots, as a feature of his stump speech.