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Spared the budget axe, Big Bird aids Michelle Obama's obesity drive

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In a move that will likely ruffle a few feathers in Washington, first lady Michelle Obama is teaming up with “Sesame Street” star Big Bird to kick off a two-day nationwide tour celebrating the third anniversary of Mrs. Obama’s anti-obesity initiative “Let’s Move.”

While Mrs. Obama’s decision to include Sesame Street’s marquee character in several new public service announcements would seem like a wholesome way to promote her campaign, the White House announcement Thursday was tinged with politics.

Big Bird became an unlikely point of partisan bickering after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney last year vowed to end taxpayer funding for PBS, even while professing to “love Big Bird.”

Mr. Romney’s comments quickly went viral, becoming fodder for late-night comics and spawning a tongue-in-cheek Obama campaign ad deeming the bird “a menace to our economy.” “Sesame Street’s” producers then objected to the Obama ad, saying they “do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns.”

The two new ads are free from any political references. They feature Mrs. Obama and Big Bird in the White House kitchen telling kids how easy it is to eat healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables and exercising in the East Room.

“Look, Mrs. Obama, I’m getting moving right now by jogging,” Big Bird says in one ad filmed in the White House’s East Room.

The ads will appear on 320 PBS stations, as well as partner channels of “Sesame Street.”

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About the Author

Susan Crabtree

Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at

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