By Justin Sink - 10/09/12 10:39 PM EDT
Big Bird has become a theme in the presidential campaign after Romney said during last week's presidential debate that he would cut funding to PBS. On Tuesday, the Obama campaign released a new commercial featuring the muppet character, mocking Romney for a willingness to cut public broadcasting funding while also expressing a reluctance to impose new regulations on Wall Street.
“I like PBS. I love Big Bird. Actually, I like you, too,” Romney said to debate moderator Jim Lehrer, the host of PBS's "NewsHour." “But I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for."
Romney reiterated that position during his interview Tuesday with CNN.
"47 million on food stamps, and the president's spending his time talking about saving Big Bird," Romney said. "I'll save my time talking about saving jobs, creating jobs, helping people get back on their feet, getting rising incomes again."
Romney was also pressed on his secretly recorded "47 percent" comments, the subject of another Obama campaign ad released Tuesday. Romney said last week that the remarks were "completely wrong" after previously having stood by the comments as simply "not elegantly stated."
"Well, what I'm saying is that the words that came out were not what I meant," Romney said. "And what I mean, I think people understand, is that if I'm president, I'll be president of 100 percent of the people… what was stated in the tape was not referring to what kind of president I'd be or who I'd be fighting for. Instead, it was talking about politics and it just didn't come out the way I meant it."
Romney was asked about his performance in last week's debate, where he was the consensus victor against President Obama. Romney called sparring partner Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) "very effective" but said he benefited most from his ability to break through attack ads.
"Rather than having people learn about me from ads prepared by my opposition, they got to actually hear what I would do for myself," Romney said. "And I think that helped me."
In an earlier discussion of foreign policy, Romney was asked if there was any "daylight" between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the Israeli leader's speech at the United Nations on Iran's nuclear program.
"There's no daylight between the United States and Israel," Romney replied. "We have coincidental interests. We share values, and we're both absolutely committed to preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon. My own test is that iran should not have the capability of producing a nuclear weapon. I think that's the same test that Benjamin Netanyahu would also apply."
Romney also said he would "have Israel's back" if the nation launched a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
"We're going to have Iran realize that they can't play one-off against each other," Romney said. "That we're absolutely committed to a world that does not include a nuclear-capable Iran."