Arizona Sen. John McCain on Tuesday was one of a number of Republicans scratching their heads over a new ad from the Obama campaign dripping with sarcasm that plays off GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s pledge, reiterated during last week’s presidential debate, to cut federal funding for PBS by portraying Big Bird as a conniving menace to society more dangerous than some of America’s most famous financial frauds.
“Today, Obama for America is out with a new TV spot because, while President Obama passed historic Wall Street reform to hold big banks accountable and give consumers tools to make informed decisions for themselves, his opponent, Mitt Romney, has shown true conviction by vowing to take down Big Bird and keep Sesame Street under control,” the Obama campaign said in an e-mail accompanying the ad.
Mr. McCain dismissed the ad as a sideshow — but was quick to affirm his support for the 8-foot-tall talking bird and star of public broadcasting’s “Sesame Street.”
“It may show a paucity of ideas and ways to criticize Mitt Romney,” Mr. McCain said on NBC’s “Today.” “The one thing President Obama can’t run on is his record, so Big Bird, I guess, is a fun thing to talk about. I love Big Bird. I’m for an earmark for Big Bird.”
But Mr. McCain went on to say that he’s never before seen attacks such as ones the Obama campaign is now throwing at Mr. Romney.
“Calling Mitt Romney a liar — that’s not an elevated debate,” he said. “Just calling people a liar is not, I think, appropriate for a presidential campaign.”
A Pew poll conducted Oct. 4-7 shows Mr. Romney with a 4-point lead among likely voters, 49 percent to 45 percent, following last week’s strong performance against Mr. Obama in the presidential debate. The president had led Mr. Romney by 8 points, 51 percent to 43 percent, in a Pew poll taken Sept. 12-16.