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Obama: McCain Making Up Attacks on Joe the Plumber

By Robert Barnes
MIAMI -- Joe the Plumber's time is not yet up.

Barack Obama brought him up at a rollicking rally here tonight and essentially told John McCain to stop lying about him "attacking" Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumber whom McCain made famous in the last debate.

In Pennsylvania today, McCain said that Obama and his campaign have been going after Wurzelbacher, who challenged the Democrat over his tax policies when he was campaigning in his neighborhood.

"Joe didn't ask for Senator Obama to come to his house, and he didn't ask to be famous," McCain said. "And he certainly didn't ask for the political attacks on him from the Obama campaign."

(Actually, Wurzelbacher sought out Obama, and pretty willingly went on all the network morning shows the day after McCain mentioned him nearly two dozen times during the debate.)

Anyway, Obama went after McCain's characterization of him.

"I had the opportunity to catch a little of Senator McCain's speech in Pennsylvania on TV." Obama said. "He has decided to completely make up, just fabricate, this notion that I've been attacking Joe the Plumber."

Obama added, "I've got nothin' but love for Joe the Plumber. That's why I want to give him a tax cut!"

Obama contends that, because Wurzelbacher makes less than $200,000 a year, he will get a tax cut under his proposal. Wurzelbacher had told Obama that he wants to buy the plumbing company he now works for, and his rise in income would mean a tax increase.

Wurzelbacher has complained about the media portrayal of him after it was reported he owes back taxes and is not a licensed plumber. But as Obama said, "Joe the Plumber himself said" he didn't believe Obama was attacking him.

"I think the media pretty much did that all by themselves," Wurzelbacher told Fox television. "You know, I don't think -- I held no animosity towards either one (of the candidates), by no means."

While Obama held himself out as blameless, his running mate, Joe Biden, took what might be considered a shot at the campaign's other Joe.

On the "Tonight Show," Biden said he did not "know many plumbers who are making $250,000 a year and worried about it."

"We're kind of worried about Joe the fireman, Joe the policeman, Joe the real plumber with a license," Biden added.

Obama tried to turn the argument to his advantage.

"John McCain is still out there, just saying this stuff, just making it up," Obama said. "He knows full well that I will cut taxes for all the workin' Joes, all the small business people across the country to help them pursue their dreams, because I want to help rebuild the middle class that has taken such a hit these past eight years under George Bush with a big assist from John McCain."

By Post Editor  |  October 21, 2008; 9:30 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Battlegrounds , Economy , John McCain  
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Next: Hillary Clinton, Al Franken and the Return of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy


People who are crying for "Joe the Plumber" are completely missing the obvious. If you insert yourself into a campaign by making representations of yourself as some kind of "everyman" for the purpose of challenging a candidate, you are volunteering to be made a symbol for that purpose. If the representations you make in this process turn out to be FALSE, you have only yourself to blame for your embarassment.

Posted by: Iconoblaster | October 22, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Chris, Joe did not seek out Obama. Obama went to JOE'S neighborhood. The "investigation" of Joe, his taxes, the media in his yard, is ludicrous and he did not ask for it. Obama and Biden DID mock Joe. His name is Samuel Joseph - many people use there middle name, as I do.

Posted by: Kansas28 | October 22, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

David Gergan and other thoughtful observers have stated that over the past 3 decades wealth has been redistributed but towards the wealthy and away from the middle class. So please put the concept in perspective. On the other hand I think the concept attributed to Mr. Obama is being overstated - he could have as easily said, lets make it easier on the middle class and not burden them with the larger responsibility or burden of taxes. Warren Buffet states apologetically that his secretary pays more taxes than he does. So why don't you look at the big picture and stop calling each other names - there needs to be debate and dialogue and more truthfull representation of the other side's views if one is to critisize. In my opinion the tactic of Mr. McCain to throw mud to see what sticks is Carl Rove and Lee Atwater all over again. Perhaps Carl Rove on his deathbed will recant the dirty tricks as did Lee Atwater. I worry too about whether Mr. Obama can effectively control a democrat congress if they become an overwhelming majority. Something must be done to reign in earmarks; I happen to believe that he will do as much as anyone can to achieve this end result. More importantly, if there are vacancies on the Supreme Court, it is better for the USA if there is a more balanced view of the Court having nominations coming from a Democrat President. Please please turn down the hate and use your intelligence to discuss and to seek out more clearly where each candidate stands.

Posted by: neomd | October 22, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

This crap is getting too much attention.Crazy Joe &CRAZY McCain both should stop the lies.If people are blind enough to beleive any of this McCain ploy.I will sell you a bridge to no-where with a jet i purchased on E-BAY.Good lines but more McCain lies.WHO is the real John McCain which way did he go.

Posted by: VRH32 | October 22, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Of course Obama went after "Joe the Plumber", so much so the AFL-CIO pressured the biz owner so that Joe couldn't work any more! The democrats havbe always been scum, but this just shows how they attack anyone who asks a question that forces their brain dead presidential candidate to actually say what he believes and let the cat out of the bag! Kill the messenger! That's the slime dem motto. But Nov 5th will be a sad day for dems! They'll be in court challenging their loss again, and wondering, "how could this happen?"

Posted by: vgailitis | October 22, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Joe the plumber is not a very bright fellow.. Just DUMB.. If you owe taxes and working without a license (apprentice) are flying under the radar, why would you put yourself in front of a camera? And buying the plumbing business? That is a laugh! He does not own a license so he can't work as a plumber on his own.

Posted by: mikecq | October 22, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Obama had to come back at McCain with something, McCain makes it really hard to run a honorable campaign. .
It is isn't fair to say that McCain hasn't worked a day in his life. Seriously? The man fought for this country and spent time in a POW camp.
This is no way means that I agree with his policies, tactics etc. or think he should be president. I'm getting tire of this:
time spent in army = all qualifications for the presidency.

Posted by: kikgirl | October 22, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

McCain is using the PT Barnum approach to politics. Joe is not Joe, he is Sam. This whole episode was a Fox News set-up. The Wurzelbacher story is McCain's staged fantasy. He's not a licensed plumber in Ohio, according to state records, but his boss, is. Ohio law requires a plumber get a local license. Furthermore Wurzelberger's estimated that the business makes between $250,000 and $280,000 a year to make his tall tale more interesting. Well, media investigators found that the business' estimated total annual revenue was about $100,000. Even if its income reached above $250,000, Obama's higher rate would only apply to net income above that level. To top it all off, Wurzelberger said he has no clear plans to buy the company anytime soon. McCain spins the tall tales of Joe the Plumber to hide the truth. McCain wants to make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy 1% of the nation and give $4 Billion in tax cuts to Big Oil. McCain wants to spread the wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich through failed Trickle Down economics and the "good socialism" of bailing out failing banks with taxpayer dollars. PT Barnum said there is a sucker born every minute. If you believe Joe is real, McCain wants your vote.

Posted by: jeffl240 | October 22, 2008 3:09 AM | Report abuse

The whole discussion (either side) about Mr. Wurzelbacher is utterly disgusting.

I am a bit disappointed of Obama to take part in this nonsense.

McCain feels he is behind and concludes he must attack by all means. Thats fine. But if he finds no better case than this would-be plumber, it is very sad for him too.
It feels like McCain picks persons on a random basis, without any vetting. Joe was a bad pick, but not half as bad as the alaskan cheerleader.

Posted by: awaler | October 22, 2008 2:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm not surprised in the least that McCain is getting his butt kicked, he doesn't have a clue about how to fix the failed Bush economy because he and Phil Gramm helped break it.

McCain has never worked a day in his life. His idea of hard work is marrying a rich beer heiress for a living.

Running for political office is McCain's hobby. All trophy spouses have hobbies.

Posted by: DrainYou | October 22, 2008 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Joe the lier said on the hannity show he would offer free plumbing services to a customer who happened to be an obama supporter if they could tell him what obama stands for.

First off thats not his business

Second off he want the spot light

Third he is a republicans

Posted by: r4147824 | October 22, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Palin and McCain love to lie, although in Palin's case, she doesn't know she's lying, because she's only repeating what her handlers say.

For example, both accuse Obama of socialism, but apparently, don't find the idea of spending $300 Billion to buy everyone's house "socialism". And when Palin was questioned about this on CNN today, she responding that it was to "level the playing field".

How is leveling the playing field not EXACTLY the same as "Spreading the wealth"?

Obama and McCain's policies are THE SAME, except that McCain copies Obama's policies and then attacks them in the same breath. I mean who came up with the whole "change" mantra first -- it was Obama, and McCain seized on it and spun it to his base.

The fact that McCain and Plain spend all their time attacking Obama while at the same time he's their only source of fresh ideas, tells me that I'd rather vote for the guy with the ideas in the first place -- Obama.

Posted by: techrat | October 22, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Geez. Anyone see JTP's interview?

He is just another of those dumb Ohioan right wing nuts.

Social Security? He's against all of it. Wants to invest his own money for retirement. Doesn't like the fact that he is forced to participate - unless of course he was ready to retire and the market crashed.

Income taxes? He's all for the flat tax on income. Problem is in defining "income". Joe thinks only W-2 wages should be taxed. Income from dividends and capital gains should be excluded. Under Joe's thinking only working stiffs would pay taxes and trust fund sorority queens like Cindy McSame wouldn't pay anything.

Patriotism? He's tired of those folks "knocking American and putting America down".

Sounds like a right wing shill to me.

....and oh yes....he contributed $100 to the McSame campaign - no date on his contribution but I bet it was before the interview.

....Ohioans and Indianans are the dumbest white people in America.

Joe was a high school drop out and it shows.


Posted by: toritto | October 21, 2008 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Robert Barnes is really stretching to support BHO. What happened is that BHO was visiting JTP's neighborhood, and - while JTP was on his front lawn playing football - decided on the spur of the moment to go ask BHO a question. That resulted in possible BHO surrogates on the DailyKos and other sites publishing highly personal information about JTP in an attempt to show that people should try to ask BHO a real question. The BHO surrogates in the MSM picked up the bloggers' smears. And, the BHO campaign has not once spoken out against their surrogates who tried to drive JTP out of work.

We need to show the BHO campaign that we aren't going to be intimidated.

This time, we need to go ask BHO a really tough question, the kind that's going to show that he's completely unqualified.

Please write every major blogger and anti-BHO pundit you can think of and urge them to back this plan, and ask all your friends to do the same:

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | October 21, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse


This was the worst-executed political dirty trick since the burglary of Ellsworth's psychiatrist by those other unlicensed plumbers.



Posted by: scrivener50 | October 21, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

You know, you'd think by now that McCain would vet his campaign stunts like the one where he picked Caribou Barbie from Alaska as his VP nominee after only talking to her twice and now using this idiotic dope "Joe (Sam) the Plumber" as a campaign prop.

"Joe" has already been found out to have been a Liar, a Fraud and a Tax Cheat and to top that off "Joe" had already donated cash to the McCain campaign BEFORE he approached Senator Obama and posed as an "undecided" voter.

Posted by: DrainYou | October 21, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Mark, we'll have to disagree on the definitions of "personal" and "attacks". As for "spread the wealth", you know as well as I do he was referring to policies that would broaden the participation in economic prosperity to include more of us, and you'd admit as much if you weren't busy catapulting the propaganda for your candidate. I don't believe you are stupid enough to actually believe that crap.

Posted by: zukermand | October 21, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

MarkInAustin eructated: "Unless you actually BELIEVE Obama when he says "I've got nothin' ...

Unless you believe McCain when he says "My friends...."

Besides I think he was talking about "Joe the Real Plumber" not the "Joe the Put-In-Your-Pipe-Dream-and-Smoke-It Pseudo Plumber" who wanted to just goad Obama into responding to an unrealistic, atypical scenario because he's a McCain supporter. (whew! that was a keyboard full!)

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 21, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Unless you actually BELIEVE Obama when he says "I've got nothin' but love for Joe the Plumber" who embarrassed him in that video, exposing Obama as someone who will no doubt "spread the wealth"?!

Posted by: MarkInAustin | October 21, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Even if Obama and Biden don't know any plumbers who make $250,000, and everything else dug up about Joe is TRUE, McCain is not LYING about that all being used to attack him. Ad hominem personal attacks are a logical fallacy.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | October 21, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse


Right! Those aren't fabricated attacks; they're facts.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 21, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Obama said: "[McCain] has decided to completely make up, just fabricate, this notion that I've been attacking Joe the Plumber." That's the part I am talking about.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | October 21, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Mark, McCain has implied Joe would see his taxes increase with Obama. This is only true if his taxable income exceeds $250,000. Are you suggesting Obama should not correct McCain's attempt to misinform us?

Posted by: zukermand | October 21, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse


Well, THEY'RE correct.


Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 21, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

So, wait a minute, Biden says he did not "know many plumbers who are making $250,000 a year and worried about it." Obama also joked "How many plumbers you know who make $250,000?" All kinds of dirt has been dug up about Joe (some by PAID or VOLUNTEER Obama staff). But all that is somehow NOT "political attacks on him from the Obama campaign"?

I see, said the blind man.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | October 21, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

John "Fabricatus Incarnatus" McCain"

Taking his cues from Karl "Marx" Rove

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 21, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

McCain fabricate?

He IS a fabrication!

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 21, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

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