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McCain splits from Romney, jokingly backs ‘earmark for Big Bird’

“Big Bird, I guess, is a fun thing to run on,” McCain said on NBC’s "Today" show. “I love Big Bird. I’m for an earmark for Big Bird.”

During his Senate career, McCain has been a staunch opponent of earmarks in legislation.

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The Obama campaign on Tuesday unveiled a new television ad mocking Romney for his calls to cut federal funding for PBS, which he cited as an example of a measure that could help reduce the deficit.

“I like PBS. I love Big Bird. Actually, I like you, too,” Romney said on Wednesday 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."

Democrats quickly seized on the remark, claiming it showed Romney's proposals were not serious and would do little to cut the deficit.

The ad sarcastically compares "Sesame Street" character Big Bird, whom Romney mentioned during last Wednesday's presidential debate, to corporate titans prosecuted for financial misdeeds.

The Romney campaign has made the deficit a key issue, noting that Obama pledged to cut the annual deficit in half. Last Friday, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the budget deficit for 2012 was $1.1 trillion, the fourth year of trillion-dollar deficits under President Obama.

McCain added that the Obama campaign’s focus on the issue showed a “paucity of ideas.”

“I think it probably gets attention, but it may show a paucity of ideas in ways to criticize Mitt Romney,” McCain continued. “The fact is the economy is still in very bad shape and obviously the American people are still in very difficult condition and the one thing President Obama can’t run on is his record.”