Thursday October 04, 2012 | 07:09 PM

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney's candid remark Wednesday night about cutting federal funding for the Public Broadcasting Service probably elicited gasps and groans from PBS lovers across the country.

But I suspect few audiences collectively gasped as loudly as the folks surrounding me at a Washington debate-watching event sponsored by, you guessed it, PBS.

There were also more than a few boos and hisses after the Republican nominee turned to moderator/PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer and said, “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS.”

In fact, the hissing was so loud that I (and I suspect others in the crowd) missed Romney’s “I love Big Bird” comment. So I was a little confused, at first, when I started seeing all of the posts online from irate Big Bird fans.

Gov. Romney might ask Gov. Paul LePage about what to expect from public broadcasting devotees should he try to slash PBS funding. Impassioned supporters of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network always overflowed the Maine Appropriations Committee room whenever lawmakers held public hearings on LePage's proposals to cut state funding for the NPR affiliate.

As for the rest of the debate, some might not be surprised to hear that many in the crowd at the PBS event seemed to lean toward President Obama, even after his lackluster performance. But there was definitely a solid core of Romney supporters (and maybe even some converts) judging by the loud applause after his closing statement.

I received an invite to the free PBS event at the Newseum – a museum dedicated to the news biz – presumably because somewhere along the line I got on their list as a member of the DC politics press corps. And I figured it would be more interesting to watch the debate with a few hundred other people rather than at home on the couch.

As for Romney's comments . . . I’ve always been partial to Cookie Monster.

(AP Photo / Matt Sayles)


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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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