Big Bird causes flap in debate

Big Bird has been thrust into the limelight after becoming an unlikely star of the US presidential debate.

The star of Sesame Street was in demand for chat shows, with Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon, Piers Morgan, the Today show and Good Morning America all asking for appearances.

The tall, yellow, winged creature was unexpectedly thrust into the presidential campaign by Mitt Romney but Sesame Workshop said the giant yellow Muppet is declining all invitations.

However Big Bird still referred to the debate when tweeting on the Sesame Street account: "My bed time is usually 7:45, but I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep at 7! Did I miss anything last night?"

During the debate with President Barack Obama, Mr Romney called for cutting federal funding to TV network 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."

Mr Obama brought up his opponent's plans for Big Bird during a campaign stop in Madison, Wisconsin.

"I just want to make sure I've got this straight: He'll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he's going to crack down on Sesame Street," Mr Obama said of Mr Romney. "Thank goodness somebody's finally cracking down on Big Bird! Who knew that he was responsible for all these deficits! Elmo's got to watch out!"