McCain Takes a 'Joe' Sprint Across Florida
By Michael Abramowitz
ORMOND BEACH, Fla. -- John McCain is taking "Joe the Plumber" on tour in Florida.
The ubiquitous Ohio tradesman is not actually present in body, but McCain is invoking his spirit on a bus tour across Florida, from the Daytona Beach on the Atlantic Coast to Sarasota on the Gulf Coast, as he renews his appeal to blue-collar and middle-class voters.
"There's Joes all over here," McCain said, as he surveyed thousands of supporters spread out around a giant lumber yard at All Star Building Materials here. "We shouldn't be taxing our small businesses more as Senator Obama wants to do. We need to be helping them expand their businesses and create jobs."
McCain accused Obama of "saying anything to get elected." That was a reference to comments this week by an Obama economics adviser that Obama had revised one of his tax proposals to add a work requirement; McCain has been charging that Obama's tax plan amounts to "welfare," a charge most independent experts contest.
A fiesty McCain also got in a little dig at his Senate colleague Joe Biden, making light of his recent comment that Obama would be tested early on in his administration. Obama said his loquacious running mate sometimes makes a few "rhetorical flourishes."
"Really? Really?" McCain said, feigning surprise. "That's another way of saying he accidentally delivered some straight talk to America."
Obama has been pushing back hard against McCain's new tax onslaught in recent days, noting that 95 percent of Americans would get a tax cut under his plan. "So what they're trying to do is to fabricate an argument and try to suggest that somehow what I'm proposing would hit the middle class or small businesses," he said in Richmond Wednesday. "Senator McCain's running a campaign against somebody else, not me, because he's not speaking to my plan."
At a rally in Leesburg later, Obama mocked McCain's use of Joe the Plumber. "Let's be clear about who John McCain's fighting for. He's not fighting for Joe the plumber. He's fighting for Joe the Hedge Fund Manager. He's fighting for Joe the CEO," Obama said.
After several days of hopscotching battleground states by plane, McCain boarded his signature bus, the Straight Talk Express, this morning for a series of events in vote-rich Florida, a state he almost certainly must win to have any hope of winning the presidency. Obama is making a strong challenge for the state's 27 electoral votes, which went to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
After the kick-off this morning, McCain will be stopping at a dentist's office and other small businesses he argues will be harmed by Obama's economic policies, just like he claims -- against considerable evidence -- that Joe the Plumber (Samuel J. Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio) will be harmed.
Posted at 11:23 AM ET on Oct 23, 2008
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