First Lady Michelle Obama faulted Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his promise to cut funding for PBS, which has entered the news cycle since the debate last week.
“[W]e believe in keeping our priorities straight,” said Mrs. Obama during a campaign stop at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds in Virginia. “We all know good and well that cutting Sesame Street is no way to balance the budget,” she continued, “that shortchanging our kids is not how we tackle our deficit.”
For Mrs. Obama — who usually sticks to a purely-positive speech about her husband – it was a rare dig at Romney, who mentioned his desire to cut federal funding for PBS while discussing the need to lower government spending.
“I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” Romney told debate moderator and PBS host Jim Lehrer. “I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”
The Obama campaign claims to believe it has found a wedge issue in Romney’s comments. “There’s been a strong grassroots outcry over the attacks on Big Bird,” campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters when explaining why the campaign released an ad focusing on Big Bird. “This is something that mothers across the country are alarmed about and we’re tapping into that.”
The Washington Examiner’s Sean Higgins reported this week that Sesame Street generated $134 million in revenue last year; will be unharmed if it loses the $1.5 million currently provided by the federal government.
“So quite frankly, you can debate whether or not there should be funding of public broadcasting,” Sesame Workshop’s Sherrie Westin told CNN. “But when they always try to [trot] out Big Bird, and say we’re going to kill Big Bird — that is actually misleading, because Sesame Street will be here.”