— Big Bird. Early in the debate, Romney said he would defund public broadcasting to help bring down the deficit but added that he liked Big Bird, a popular character on PBS' "Sesame Street." Social networks immediately responded, with participants posting spoof photos of Big Bird and other "Sesame Street" characters on Facebook and setting up parody Big Bird Twitter accounts.
During a lull in the debate, an ABC news executive tweeted, "avian life is outstripping human life in this debate." Another viewer with the Twitter handle A CookieMonster wrote, "Obama killed bin Laden. Romney put a hit on Big Bird."
— Jim Lehrer. The veteran PBS newsman was widely panned as the debate moderator, with viewers complaining he asked weak questions and did a poor job of keeping command of the debate's time and tempo. Lehrer's name became a trending topic on Twitter, and his performance drew jeers from countless participants. "Jim Lehrer is like the grandpa at dinner table who falls asleep and wakes up randomly shouting," tweeted a woman with the Twitter handle of Bookgirl96.
— Romney's big win. Social media participants marveled at Romney's strong outing and pronounced Obama's debate performance flat, non-energetic and meandering — a dud. While Obama has been leading Romney in battleground state polls in recent days, the consensus on social networks was that Romney's debate performance had breathed new life into his campaign.
Obama supporters were some of his toughest critics. Andrew Sullivan, a pro-Obama writer for The Daily Beast whose Twitter feed, Sullydish, has a loyal following, declared: "This was a disaster for the president." Joe Mercurio, a New York media buyer, wrote on Facebook: "It could have been worse."
Follow Beth Fouhy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bfouhy
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