Election 2012

Save Big Bird? The mom vote is split

Oct. 4, 2012 at 3:58 PM ET

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Are Big Bird Moms the new soccer moms? Are Mitt Romney's comments in the presidential debate about ending subsidies for PBS and "Sesame Street" galvanizing mom voters?

In a word: No.

No offense, Big Bird, we love you too. But our politics are way more complex than our children's television shows. Just because we're moms doesn't mean we agree (as anyone who's attended a contentious PTA meeting knows). On TODAY Moms' Facebook page, a question about Big Bird and taxpayer subsidies for public television yielded a wide range of responses, from staunch defenders of public funding of Sesame Street to federal budget-conscious moms who say it's time for the big yellow guy to pay his own way.

First, here's what Romney said to moderator Jim Lehrer, who works for PBS:

“I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

According to The Associated Press:

Federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting totals $450 million this year, accounting for about 15 percent of the CPB's budget... Federal money supplements the budgets of PBS' 179 stations nationally. For some of the smaller stations in rural areas, this subsidy accounts for more than half of its yearly budget, so many can't operate without it. 

Some moms' feathers were ruffled by the Big Bird comment:

Brianna Anderson said: "Take away PBS? Was he not hugged enough as a child?"

The personal is political for Kayla Beard: "There will be some angry children and a mama in this house if PBS is gone."

Jennifer Owen Abrams posted an impassioned defense:

Sesame Street has been a way for children who have little or no access to books to learn for over 40 years. There has been growth on the show to include tough and germane topics, such as parents who are away serving in the military, or coping with a terminal illness. This is in addition to teaching children about healthy eating, sharing, being kind, getting along with others even if they have different beliefs, and of course the alphabet and learning how to count.

For over 40 years, it has been an avenue for children to explore their imaginations, to learn and to grow. To say that Sesame Street is not a relevant or significant learning tool for thousands of children, or that funding it is not essential is beyond sad...it would be a tragedy.

Others say the letter of the day is F, as in fiscal responsibility.

Trisha Anderson Rogers wrote: "PBS is wonderful for our children, but we do not need to continue to borrow from other countries for this. I am faithful that with some effort, additional funding from sponsors (as opposed to government) can support PBS into the future."

Cynthia Burchill said, "Government does not need to fund public TV. Hello it's call a fund raiser. I love big bird too but when my toddler is older I don't want to continue paying his salary."

And much like Mitt, Amanda Marsilio Burlinson says she loves Big Bird, but not the public funding:

As the mother of an almost 5 year old I have to say I love PBS. The quality of educational programming, coupled with the lack of commercials for crap and commercialism is great. PBS is so much better than Nickelodeon, Disney and Cartoon Network combined. That being said, I don't believe, in this economy, we should be funding $400 or so million dollars for PBS. Just as every household has had to make tough budget decision and eliminate some things to stay afloat, so does our government. I also think it's ridiculous that with all of the other topics, points and facts discussed last night, this is the one getting the most press. It will not affect my vote.

And some moms are thinking outside of the political box. Sadie Blackwell suggests, "Perhaps TLC can dump Toddlers and Tiaras or Honey Boo Boo and pick up Sesame Street." Bipartisan agreement, anyone? 

Tell me how to get, how to get to these related stories:

Elmo answers TODAY Moms' questions

Should breast-feeding be shown on Sesame Street?

Why do we let politicians hold our babies?

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