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Gibbs: Big Bird ad raised ‘important point’

Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs on Wednesday defended an ad using "Sesame Street" character Big Bird to attack GOP candidate Mitt Romney, saying it raised an “important point.”

“The ad and the president have an important point on this,” said Gibbs on NBC’s “Today” show. “Mitt Romney in Wednesday’s debate said, ‘I’m going to get tough by getting "Downton Abbey" and going to war with "Sesame Street" ' when he’s going to let Wall Street off the hook and not hold them accountable as we go on financial reform.

“We can’t have a president that does that. That’s certainly part of a very real issue and I think it’s one more piece of something … that Mitt Romney said in the debate that he would like to change or that is a position that he is going to want to change,” Gibbs continued, accusing Romney of changing his stance on numerous issues. 

Big Bird became an issue in the campaign after Romney cited the children’s television show character when giving an example during last week’s debate of how he would rein in the deficit.

“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."

The Obama campaign seized on the remark with an ad featuring footage of Big Bird and criticizing Romney for pushing cuts to public broadcasting and his reluctance to impose more stringent regulations on Wall Street.

Republicans quickly pushed back against the ad, saying that Obama was trying to distract voters from the controversy over the administration’s explanation of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya and from the president’s economic record.

"Sesame Street" asked the Obama team to take down the ad, saying it was not endorsing any candidate and did not participate in political campaigns. The administration said yesterday that it would review the request.

“I don’t know of any plans to change that ad,” Gibbs said Wednesday.

Gibbs also said that the campaign had expected a tight race in the last month before Election Day, as polls show Romney enjoying a bounce from last week’s presidential debate win.

Romney has closed the gap with Obama in multiple swing states, and a Gallup poll Tuesday showed him taking the lead nationally for the first time among likely voters.

“The president understands that he didn’t even live up to his own high expectations for that debate,” said Gibbs.

The senior adviser also cautioned that Vice President Biden was “going to have to be on his toes” in his upcoming debate with GOP running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). 

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