Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has vowed he would cut funding to PBS, America’s public broadcaster and the home of much-loved Sesame Street character Big Bird.

"I love Big Bird," said Romney during his debate with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday night, "but I’m not going to keep spending money on things [and] to borrow money from China to pay for it."

The threat to push Big Bird out of its federally subsidized nest prompted a torrent of comment on Twitter and other social media. Soon after Romney’s remarks, Twitter users were posting 17,000 tweets per minute mentioning Big Bird.

Romney apologized to the debate moderator Jim Lehrer, a former PBS anchor, but called the need to reduce America’s deficit a moral issue.

"I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS …. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too."

The promised cut would not make much of a dent in the trillion-dollar deficit Romney wants to take on, however, since funding for PBS amounts to less than 1/100th of one per cent of the U.S. federal budget.

Big Bird's Twitter feed

CBC's Your Community blog followed the reaction on Twitter to Romney's vow to pluck Big Bird's funding: