Intelligence Report: Three questions remain on the presidential debate

October 4, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Why did President Obama seem so lackadaisical?

What was the ruckus about Romney's flag lapel pin?

If a president were to pull the plug on PBS, would Big Bird actually fly the coop?

From the beginning of Wedneday's debate in Denver, President Obama was described by some as tired, distracted and halting.

On Thursday, neither Obama nor his campaign offered an explanation for what many analysts call an underwhelming performance.

However, former Vice President Al Gore did suggest his opinion on what went wrong.

"Obama arrived in Denver at 2 pm today just a few hours before the debate started. Romney did his debate prep in Denver. When you go to 5,000 feet and you only have a few hours to adjust," said Al Gore.

When the candidates took their positions, social media lit up with comments about Governor Romney's American flag lapel pin being larger than President Obama's.

Some viewers also questioned the small mark in the middle of Romney's flag.

A Romney aide said the pin had been given to him some time ago by a Secret Service agent.

A close up look at the mark shows it as a Secret Service logo, based on a clear picture of a version of the pin found on eBay.

Finally, the question that followed the debate – if President Romney were to pull the plug on PBS, would Big Bird be a goner?

"I am going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I like Big Bird and like you, too, but I'm not going to keep spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it," Romney told moderator Jim Lehrer during the debate.

Cutting public broadcasting's budget has been a staple of the Romney campaign.

"We're not going to kill Big Bird on Sesame Street but Big Bird is going to have advertisement," Romney said in January.

Thursday was the most creative explanation by some on why Romney has been irked by PBS. For years, he has been compared to the muppet Guy Smiley, a game show host.

In a statement released by PBS on Thursday, executives said they were disappointed at becoming a political target in the presidential debate. Governor Romney, they say, doesn't understand the value that Americans place on public broadcasting. They say public broadcasting federal funding equals about 1/100th of 1 percent of the US budget.

So far, nobody has complained that the flag with the Secret Service logo violates the flag code. Under the code, nothing should be placed on the flag.

Read the full PBS statement regarding Big Bird and Mitt Romney:

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