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The Final Debate: McCain Goes Viral

Politicians mention people they meet on the campaign trail all the time to drive home how their policies would help the average citizen. But McCain took the unusual step of mentioning someone Obama met. And then, as Gene noted, mentioning him over and over again.

There are two reasons why Joe the Plumber was so prominent.

The obvious: McCain doesn’t have much to attack Obama on fiscally. Both candidates supported the rescue plan, and the recent economic turmoil has come during a Republican administration. The public isn’t buying McCain’s anti-pork rhetoric so far. McCain’s only hope, then, is to argue that Obama would raise taxes and worsen the fiscal crisis. Joe the Plumber embodies that argument.

The less obvious: McCain may be hoping to spark a viral uprising against Obama.

Check out the following video that has making the rounds on YouTube:

Various iterations of the video have 18,000 views or less as I write this. Here’s guessing those numbers jump up by tomorrow morning. In the video, Obama tells the now-famous plumber, who was critical of Obama's tax plan, that he wants to “spread the wealth around.”

This might trouble some voters. But how can McCain make the case that Obama is espousing pseudo-socialist policies when the current administration just bought into nine banks? Maybe Joe the Plumber is meant to channel the increasingly populist stance of the McCain campaign. But I don’t think he’s going to get McCain many votes.

By Steven Stein  | October 15, 2008; 10:40 PM ET
Categories:  Stein  | Tags:  Steven Stein  
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Comments

Am I the only one who thought Mccain looked and behaved like an angry, desperate old man??? Is always more interested in slinging mud than getting to the point.

Posted by: shellyl65 | October 15, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

shelly165: you aren't the only one.

Posted by: martymar123 | October 15, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

CLEAN SWEEP FOR OBAMA/BIDEN!

That's 4 debates, 4 convincing debate wins for Barack Obama and Joe Biden!

Obama outclassed and outcooled McCain yet again tonight.

McCain = Erratic + Grumpy + Bush clone

Obama = Composed + Calm + Real, positive change for middle class Americans

Posted by: jgarrisn | October 15, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Senator Obama is way extremely to the left! I am not earning much now. I do not want anybody else's money. I am proud to be working very hard and I know I will get there. And when I get there, I do not want anyone to take away my American dream. "Spread the wealth" is not American dream. It is socialist. and it discourage people from dreaming the American dream.

Posted by: election20081 | October 15, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.1445/pub_detail.asp

Ayers isn't HALF the problem!

Posted by: edeldoug1 | October 15, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting really tired of these condescending dumbed-down expressions to describe American voters. Hockey moms, Joe Six-Pack, Joe the Plumber. Enough already. Especially when some sneering and snorting crotchety old man is saying them.

Posted by: DogBitez | October 15, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

No, you weren't the only one. I watched the talking heads on CNN, and the Republicans said this was his best debate. I can't agree. Why would McCain rip into Obama, to the point of incoherency? It is because he is losing on the issues. Obama said time and time again that we want a discussion of the issues, and McCain ignored him. It was the act of a desperate man that smells defeat: his. He was obviously livid about Rep. Lewis' remarks, but brushed off the fact that Palin lets bigots in her crowds shout out, "Kill him!" with no comment. He is angry to no effect other than venting his spleen. As Obama said, we aren't interested in the two of them crying about their hurt feelings. The leader of the world's only superpower needs to exercise more self-control than McCain demonstrated tonight; anyone with such massive power at their fingertips needs to be rational and cool in crises, and not get blindingly angry.

Posted by: csintala79 | October 15, 2008 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Shelly165, no, you weren't the only one. I watched the talking heads on CNN, and the Republicans said this was his best debate. I can't agree. Why would McCain rip into Obama, to the point of incoherency? It is because he is losing on the issues. Obama said time and time again that we want a discussion of the issues, and McCain ignored him. It was the act of a desperate man that smells defeat: his. He was obviously livid about Rep. Lewis' remarks, but brushed off the fact that Palin lets bigots in her crowds shout out, "Kill him!" with no comment. He is angry to no effect other than venting his spleen. As Obama said, we aren't interested in the two of them crying about their hurt feelings. The leader of the world's only superpower needs to exercise more self-control than McCain demonstrated tonight; anyone with such massive power at their fingertips needs to be rational and cool in crises, and not get blindingly angry.

Posted by: csintala79 | October 15, 2008 11:23 PM | Report abuse

mccain seemed like he was about to burst wide open with angry screaming. He actually looked mental on the split screen, and was frightening to watch. We don't need a hot head.

mccain also seemed like he had to blurt out his canned memorized answers----just like palin did at her debate. Many times, the answers were just phrases that made no sense and were not coherent.

Something is not quite right about him nowadays.

Posted by: sallieismydog | October 15, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

He is an angry little man. McCain simply unloaded all that he had to get out in this final debate. It did not work.

Posted by: cynbad1 | October 15, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Viral? As in "Ebola?" McSame's campaign just hemorrhaged all over my television screen. Ick. Joe the Plumber makes more than the average American - maybe he is one of the "whiners" McSame's campaign likes to mock so much.

BTW love election20081 raving about socialist dems when the Repugs just nationalized the banks and "spread the wealth" of taxpayer funds to Wall Street. Keep working hard sweetie, take another job and you might even be able to pay the rent in the second year of a McCain presidency. LOL - working hard. Love it!


Posted by: gmsliberty | October 15, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

McCain took his last, best shot and missed. Obama stuck to the issues, Joe the Plumber got his fifteen moments of fame, and McCain will be the gentleman from Arizona!

Posted by: meldupree | October 15, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Empty party, empty people = that is why McCain has nothing other than attacks to offer - because there is nothing else he has to offer. And the little neocon post made me laugh with once again his 'socialist' comments. I am sure on November 5th, Cindy and John will be sitting around with Sarah and Todd saying "but how did this happen? we had it all planned out."

Posted by: skolniks | October 15, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Joe the plumber. The good thing is McCain is going to lose bigtime and Joe will fall into the septic tank on his next callout job and drown. Neither of them will be missed.

Posted by: dsrobins | October 15, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

These rich jerks (like the stars of FOX news) get SOOO riled up, but the truth is, over the last 8 yrs, the rich have gotten richer, and the poor (and middle class) have gotten poorer!

So, yeah- since we- the middle class taxpayers- are footing the bill for the bailout to rescue the wall street giants, and other rich folks, it's about damn time we "spread the wealth around".

The rich- via wall street- have been stealing from all of us long enough. Time for payback.

Posted by: julieds | October 15, 2008 11:30 PM | Report abuse

I am not going to back off one bit, because we can't take anything for granted. Donate and volunteer!! We are in the home stretch!!


But I sure do feel better about my candidate's future after Mr. I Hate Women's performance tonight!!

Posted by: PAVoter | October 15, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Well, personally, i think McCain did pretty good coming off the starting line, but didn't maintain his cool and keep his dislike of Obama from showing, and i think his downturn started when he brought up Bill Ayers. If McCain says he doesn't care about the guy, why bring it up at all? And i know that the 'real' issue at hand is how Obama didn't want to talk about it, but come on, who would want to? In addition, McCain failed to remember the fact that Obama did not launch his career in Ayer's living room, it was in a conference hall at a hotel(can't remember the name off the top of my head) What Ayers hosted was a meet the candidate event, and likely, only reason he did that is because he and Obama served together on an education board. Also, the whole mess with ACORN was something McCain needed to avoid, in my opinion. Trying to link the current potential screwup ACORN has made to Obama is like trying to make pigs fly.

Posted by: ObsidianWolf | October 15, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Rich people get SO angry about the idea of "spreading the wealth around"....well how did these shmucks make their millions in the first place?

On the backs of hardworking Americans! In the form of low wages, high gas prices, crappy home loans, inflation, etc, WE- AVERAGE MIDDLE CLASS AMERCANS- are the people who have been putting money in their pockets, so i have ZERO sympathy for higher taxes for the wealthy. It's my high grocery bills, gas bills etc that have driven the free market, and lined their pockets!

Posted by: julieds | October 15, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

McCain scares the crap out of me. Needs prozac.

And what is this Joe the Plumber? My plumber makes more than I ever made teaching.

Posted by: MichelleH | October 15, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

well julieds, the thing is that the top 1% of our country do pay a hefty amount of income tax, and increasing their taxes is not likely to result in any real adjustment to the wealth flow. However, at the same time, putting the pressure on companies that post record-breaking profits will put more money into the governments hands, so they can afford to do the things they promise us on the campaign trail. To that end, I'd like to see the law that allows companies to make their profits out of the country and thus dodge taxes on those profits repealed. As long as it's an American company, or even a foreign-owned one based in America, it should pay American taxes on all it's profits, regardless of where they're earned.

Posted by: ObsidianWolf | October 15, 2008 11:37 PM | Report abuse

I give Obama a lot of credit for passing over the question concerning Sarah Palin's incompetency. (Maybe it was just good time management, since any such a conversation would have taken the whole 90 minutes.) But really, if Obama can set all that aside, so that he can talk about things that actually matter, then he's the president that I've been waiting for.

Posted by: JimZ1 | October 15, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey election20081! I saw your exact same post on another blog. Copy and paste! Just one thing to say to you. Every time you take your car out on a road you are reaping the benefits of the wealth being spread around. That's what taxes are all about. The dozens of other little things the government does for you that you don't notice in your everyday life are all there because the money was raised in taxes and spread around to everyone. "Spreading the wealth around" is a simple definition of what tax money does for the average citizen. One thing this would mean would be investment in programs which stimulate the economy and create jobs. If you don't want anything from the government then you had better go out into the woods and build absolutely everything from scratch, because otherwise you are bound to be receiving the benefits of tax dollars which are spreading the wealth all around you.

Posted by: furtherwest | October 15, 2008 11:58 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA BIDEN 08!!!

NETHERLANDS ANTILLES

Posted by: fu_buki | October 15, 2008 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Spread the wealth around hell. We ought to do more than that. Nationalize oil companies and confiscate homes and business and children of the rich and undo the damage these Republican swine have done these past eight years. The percentage of income taken by the top one percent has increased 250 percent since 1980.

Posted by: davidscott1 | October 16, 2008 12:10 AM | Report abuse

I think McCain decided sometime today or yesterday that "Joe the Plumber" was his ticket to middle class appeal and, by gosh, he was going to beat that drum, regardless of what the topic was and whether it fit in at all. And what did it accomplish? It made him look like some disconnected "rain man" who wasn't paying attention to the conversation going on around him.

Posted by: jaynashvil | October 16, 2008 12:17 AM | Report abuse

If you're going to watch the video, watcht eh full exchange, not just the edited by Fox News exchange. It's number vFC9jv9jfoA on YouTube.

Posted by: LizaBean | October 16, 2008 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Great debate! Obama won it again, but what else is new.

But McCain's multi's, MrGrumpy and MrCreepy, did show up!!! MrCrazy nearly launched too, but how much fun can we all stand? The hat trick was too much to expect, you can't always get what you want.

Now, all us McCain spotters can look forward to Letterman.

Three debates, the words "middle class" never spoken by McCain in any of them.

Posted by: plaza04433 | October 16, 2008 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Hate to say it, but visuals count. Joe looks a bit like a skinhead, unfortunately. Moreover, body language is important, too. Notice how obama reached out to touch Joe's shoulder, with Joe reacting by leaning away and crossing his arms in front of him?

Methinks Joe has more problems with Obama than just the man's tax proposals.

Posted by: pasc1 | October 16, 2008 12:39 AM | Report abuse

If Joe the Plumber makes over 250,000 a year he'll have no problem paying his fair share of taxes. The rich have been robbing us for years with their corporate loopholes and we get stuck with the bill every time.

Posted by: HemiHead66 | October 16, 2008 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Spread the wealth my a**. What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine. You're not getting anything from me. I work hard 80 hours a week, jetting around and entertaining clients on golf courses. You don't. You can't. The reason I have more than you is because you're a loser. I'm a winner. Deal with it.

Posted by: CuckooRaja | October 16, 2008 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Wow, kudos to McCain for bringing up Joe the plumber and leading me to go watch the video. I thought Obama was so obviously respectful, intelligent, and knowledgeable in his conversation with this man. He took the time to clearly describe his policies, even to someone who he knew wasn't an ardent supporter. He clearly explained all the reasons for his decisions, and they made good sense. He showed himself to be thoughtful, engaged, caring, and involved in the life of this man and of all the others, the waitress he mentioned, and blue collar people everywhere. This was an impromptu meeting that Obama handled with grace and intelligence and feeling. We should all feel better knowing Obama is in the White House.

Posted by: katharinestavrinou | October 16, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

The rich and the Media are gonna use every trick in the book to try and sucker us out of another election. I'm glad to see people aren't buying it. If something isn't done to put a stop to the selling off of our country we're finished.

Posted by: HemiHead66 | October 16, 2008 1:06 AM | Report abuse

Putting policy aside, I think once again despite Senator McCain's grumpy and sarcastic demeanor, it never penetrated the optimism that Mr. Obama has projected since coming to the spotlight 4 years ago. That alone deserves praise. He could have easily taken the low road. I could have come up with at least ten sarcastic replies to Senator McCain. Mr. Obama, you truly are PRESIDENTIAL.

Posted by: lingo009 | October 16, 2008 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the "viral" video: I think the full clip of Barack's encounter with Joe makes Obama look great. He's empathetic, precise, blunt, and charming.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFC9jv9jfoA&eurl=http://www.ilxor.com/ILX/ThreadSelectedControllerServlet?boardid=40&threadid=65492

If *this* video "goes viral", rather than the Fox remix, I think it'll only benefit Obama.

Posted by: jme37 | October 16, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone notice the ungraceful, ungentlemanly, disconnectedness McCain displayed as the wives joined their men on the platform immediately after the debate? Barack and Michelle became a couple, John turned and walked off the platform leaving Cindy to follow him awkwardly...says alot to me.

Posted by: lucyb1 | October 16, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Why should Joe the Plumber (or any of the rest of us) pay more taxes when Rep. Charles Rangel, Democrat New York, doesn't pay his?

If any of the rest of us did what Rangel did--we'd have already been through tax court and sitting in a jail cell.

But, laws don't seen to apply equally to sll of us. Elite Democrats always get a pass.

Posted by: tharper1 | October 20, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

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