Romney vows to cut PBS funding despite â??loveâ?? for Big Bird

President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney faced off Wednesday night in the first presidential debate leading up to the election on November 6. The debate focused on the economy, healthcare, and the role of government.

In a discussion about the deficit, Romney said he would lower the deficit by cutting spending and growing the economy, but not by raising taxes.

Romney said he would cut programs that are not critical enough to justify borrowing money from China to support. As an example, Romney told debate moderator Jim Lehar, of PBS, that he would cut the subsidy to PBS despite his affection for Sesame Street star Big Bird.

"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. Actually like you, too," said Romney. "I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for."

The comment about Big Bird immediately went viral on Twitter. Big Bird and other Sesame Street characters trended on Twitter throughout the debate and spoof Twitter account @FiredBigBird joined the conversation. According to the social media site, users posted 17,000 tweets

per minute

mentioning Big Bird and 10,000 tweets per minute for PBS.

In the Syracuse area,


is the local PBS affiliate which airs childrenâ??s programming such as Sesame Street. CEO Robert Daino spoke with CNY Central in response to the Romney comments and what it meant specifically to WCNY and Syracuse.

"We've seen the handwriting on the wall for quite some time regarding federal funding." says Daino. "We have to change how we do business... We're doing everything we can to be self-sufficient."

Daino says that WCNY, with their new downtown Syracuse studios, are more relevant than ever.

"We are a huge part of the economic development in out Central New York Community," says Diano. "As long as the community feels we are valuable, we'll be around."

What do you think about cutting subsidies to educational programming? Would you support Romneyâ??s decision to cut federal funding of PBS? Do your children watch Sesame Street?