Saturday, October 25, 2008

Joe the Plumber all but came out of the water closet for Sen. John McCain on Friday, saying that his famous exchange with Sen. Barack Obama made him “scared for America” and that he doesn’t trust the Democratic presidential candidate on taxes.

The plumber, aka Joe Wurzelbacher, burst into the headlines after he buttonholed Mr. Obama less than two weeks ago during a campaign stop in his Holland, Ohio, neighborhood and quizzed him about his tax policy. On Friday, he said that he wasn’t impressed by the Illinois senator in their encounter.

“When I was face to face with him, my honest first impression was that I expected something more. I had heard so much about ‘his presence’ in the media that I was surprised to find that he seemed very average,” Mr. Wurzelbacher wrote in a live online chat on (read the transcript with Mr. Wurzelbacher here).

“My gut feeling as he answered my questions? I was scared for America,” he wrote in response to a reader who asked “When you were face to face with Obama, what were you thinking and how did it feel?”

Mr. Wurzelbacher, arguably the world’s most famous plumber, has become a cornerstone of Mr. McCain’s Republican campaign, which had embarked on a statewide blitz across Florida in a series of “Joe the Plumber” events aimed at blue-collar workers.


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On the campaign circuit Friday, the nominee repeatedly cited Joe the Plumber, telling supporters that if Mr. Obama is elected, the middle class is “going to be put through the wringer.”

The plumber, who again refused to endorse a nominee explicitly, said he learned about the tour “on the news only this morning.” He said no one from either campaign “has asked me to join them. I’m out to stick up for the regular folks.”

Even though Mr. Obama promises to give Mr. Wurzelbacher at least a $1,000 tax refund if elected president, the blue-collar worker worries that Mr. Obama will break his word and back off his promise to give a tax break to every worker making less than $250,000 a year.

“What worries me is that he is deciding that $250k is rich right now, but what’s to stop him from changing his mind?” Mr. Wurzelbacher said Friday..

“As we all know, politicians change their minds at the drop of a poll. Personally, I think it will have to go lower. How else will he pay for all he wants big government to do?” he said.

During a brief discussion on Oct. 12, the candidate told the plumber, who had said he hoped to own his own company some day, that as president, he would try to “spread the wealth around.”

Mr. McCain has called the pledge socialist, and Mr. Wurzelbacher said Americans simply don’t want that.

“Whether or not his tax plan, as he states it today, would help me, it still comes down to principles. I don’t want someone else’s hard-earned money. How can you be sure they’re not going to change their minds and decide you make too much money and want to take more of it to ‘spread’ to someone else?” the plumber wrote.

Mr. Wurzelbacher said he strongly supports the “fair tax,” which would repeal federal income taxes established in the 16th Amendment of the Constitution and replace them with a progressive national sales tax.

“I like the principles of it, and especially the idea of doing away with the IRS. That being said, I’m a big proponent of the flat tax, which I believe would have the same effect and is just as fair. We all have to pay taxes for the defense of our country and certain basic government protections for the people. I would be interested in supporting and presenting either tax reforms to Middle America,” he said.

He also said Friday that he would consider running for Congress in 2010, challenging in the Toledo-area district represented by longtime Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

“I’ll tell you what, we’d definitely be in one heck of a fight,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said during an appearance on the Laura Ingraham show Friday. “But, you know, I’d be up for it.”


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