Before Gov. Mitt Romney took the outdoor stage in downtown St. Petersburg for a campaign rally Friday, Big Bird tried to upstage the GOP presidential candidate.
It was not the Big Bird of "Sesame Street" fame, but a costumed protester from the Florida Consumer Action Network and MoveOn.org.
The protest groups lampooned Romney and his pledge to cut PBS funding by staging a mock boxing match between Big Bird from "Sesame Street" and a caricature of the former Massachusetts governor.
At Wednesday's presidential debate, Romney told debate host Jim Lehrer that he intended to eliminate funding to PBS, the public network, where Lehrer hosts the "NewsHour."
The Associated Press reported:
Yes, Bird. During Wednesday's debate with President Barack Obama, Romney called for cutting federal funding to PBS, despite saying, "I love Big Bird." It renewed a long-running debate over subsidies to public broadcasting.
"I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS," the former Massachusetts governor, a Republican, said during a deficit-cutting discussion. "I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too, Jim (Lehrer, PBS newsman and debate moderator). But I'm not going to ... keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it."