By Laura Hertzfeld
Updated October 03, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
Big Bird
Credit: Everett Collection

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared early on in the first presidential debate Wednesday night “I love Big Bird,” but said he would still vote to cut funding for public broadcasting, everyone’s favorite oversized, yellow-feathered friend got a whole new level of fame: Internet fame.

During the debate, several twitter feeds popped up, including @BigBirdRomney, @BigBird, @FiredBigBird, and more, each gaining from hundreds to thousands of followers within minutes. There’s even a Big Bird for President Facebook page. #BigBird and his friend #OscartheGrouch both became Twitter trending topics during the course of the debate. Romney’s quip also spawned several memes and .gifs.

Twitter’s official politics feed, @gov, posted that there were “17,000 Tweets per minute for ‘Big Bird’ and 10,000 Tweets per minute for ‘PBS'” after that moment during the debate.

Some tweets from the newest birds on the Twitter block:


Cutting funding to public broadcasting is hardly a new discussion point for Romney. Back in 2011, he suggested at a campaign stop that PBS programs may need to turn to advertising for support. “We’re not going to kill Big Bird,” Romney said at an Iowa campaign stop. “Big Bird is going to have advertisements, all right?” A Politico story from April 2011 cleared up the numbers game around government funding for public broadcasting, noting that funds dedicated to PBS, NPR, and other public media organizations only represent .00014 percent of the federal budget.

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