A week after Big Bird became an unlikely character in the 2012 presidential campaign when Mitt Romney uttered his name in the first debate, the Obama campaign has approved a new ad that uses the "Sesame Street" character to attack the Republican nominee's plan to cut federal funding for PBS.
"Bernie Madoff. Ken Lay. Dennis Kozlowski. Criminals. Gluttons of greed," a voice-over reads in the new 30-second TV spot produced by Obama for America. "And the evil genius who towered over them? One man has the guts to speak his name."
Clips of Romney saying "Big Bird" in his stump speeches follow.
"Mitt Romney knows it's not Wall Street you have to worry about—it's 'Sesame Street,'" the narrator continues. "Mitt Romney: Taking on our enemies, no matter where they nest."
[Related: Romney camp mocks Obama's focus on Big Bird]
The producers of "Sesame Street" released a statement on Tuesday, saying they asked the Obama campaign to pull the ad.
"Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns," Sesame Workshop said in a statement. "We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down."
Romney's camp slammed the ad, too.
"Four years ago, President Obama said that if you don't have a record to run on, 'you make a big election about small things,'" Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in an emailed statement to Yahoo News. "With 23 million people struggling for work, incomes falling, and gas prices soaring, Americans deserve more from their president."
On the "Today" show, Sen. John McCain—who lost to Obama in 2008—said the ad "may show a paucity of ideas and ways to criticize Mitt Romney."
A day after President Obama's lackluster performance in the first debate, the incumbent mocked Romney for "finally getting tough on Big Bird."
"We didn't know that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit," Obama said at an Oct. 4 rally.
On Tuesday, the Republican National Committee released an infographic that uses another "Sesame Street" character—the Count—to ridicule the president's "complete lack of positive message or vision" coming out of the debate. (Sesame Workshop asked the RNC remove the Count from its graphic, too.)
"After last week's inept debate performance, President Obama has offered voters only complaints and false attacks, making Sesame Street characters the cornerstone of his campaign," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. "While President Obama has managed to come up with some Sesame Street themed one-liners that escaped him on debate night, he has failed to come up with a plan for a 2nd term beyond his unyielding commitment to raising taxes."
Meanwhile, senior Romney adviser Kevin Madden told reporters onboard the candidate's plane Tuesday that the campaign isn't taking Obama's latest offensive seriously.
"I find it troubling that the president's message, the president's focus 28 days out from Election Day is Big Bird," Madden said.