DEFIANCE, Ohio — Sen. John McCain, running through Ohio on a daylong bus tour, introduced Joe the Plumber at his first stop of the morning at an outdoor rally in this tiny town not far from where Joe Wurzelbacher confronted Sen. Barack Obama about his tax plan.
“Joe’s with us today. Joe, where are you? Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today?”
The problem? Joe wasn’t here.
McCain aides scrambled; one ran past reporters in one direction, then back in the other, talking frantically into her portable radio. Reporters streamed up to other aides asking if the world’s most famous plumber was indeed here.
“Joe, I thought you were here today,” McCain said as the crowd murmured. After half a minute of silence, as everyone in the crowd scanned for Joe, McCain tried to make the best of it. “All right, well, you’re all Joe the Plumber so all of you stand up and say — I thank you,” he said as the crowd applauded.
Afterward, one McCain aide sought to downplay the misstep. “It was a metaphor; they’re all Joe the Plumber.”
But reporters weren’t buying it. “This is going to make every network news channel tonight,” one said a few minutes after the goof. Another joked: “Are you kidding? It’s already got 100,000 hits on YouTube.”
Here’s the clip:
UPDATE: CNN found Joe the Plumber, who said he won’t actually make any of McCain’s stops today in Ohio. Apparently, he’s attending a charity event in Philadelphia.