Forget Palin - McCain needs Joe the Plumber

AP/Jake Turcotte

Perhaps John McCain should part ways with running mate Sarah Palin and add Joe the Plumber to his ticket.

McCain hasn't had so much media buzz about his campaign since he made Palin his surprise pick six weeks ago.  And his poll numbers are actually up today.  The latest Gallup three day tracking poll shows McCain down only by a 49 - 43 margin.

Biden bites plumber

And one of his opponents over on the Obama-Biden team went after Joe the Plumber with the same fervor held for Palin back in her glory days. Guess who? Of course.  Joe Biden.

"I don't have any Joe the Plumbers in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year and are worried," Biden said on the Today Show. "The Joe the Plumbers in my neighborhood, the Joe the Cops in my neighborhood, the Joe the Grocery Store Owners in my neighborhood, they make – like 98 percent of the small businesses – less than $250,000 a year and they're going to do very well under us."

Biden the bully?

It's uncertain if Biden mentioned the words "Scranton" or "hardscrabble" in his rounds this morning.  But his remarks did lead to a sharp rejoinder from the McCain campaign.

"Joe Biden’s attempt to bully Joe the Plumber today speaks volumes about how disconnected Barack Obama’s economic policy is to the needs of the middle class Americans," said McCain spokesman Ben Porritt. "It is astounding that Joe Biden, the self-adulated ‘everyman,’ can't believe that an American making less than $250,000 a year might still be opposed to socialism"

"Barack Obama wants to raise taxes and redistribute the wealth in this country because he believes government can spend your money better than you can – it's not just naïve, it's poor judgment," he added.


At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, McCain talked more about Joe the Plumber than Palin.

"The real winner last night was Joe the Plumber," McCain told the crowd. "He won and small businesses across America won, because the American people are not going to let Senator Obama raise their taxes in a tough economy. Small businesses provide 16 million jobs in America, and Americans know that raising taxes on small businesses will kill those jobs at a time when need to be creating more jobs."

Repeating his line from last night, McCain latched on to what he considers the hallmark of Obama's tax plan to be: redistribution of wealth.

"Senator Obama told Joe that he wanted to spread his wealth around," he said. "America didn't become the greatest nation on earth by spreading the wealth; we became the greatest nation by creating new wealth."


Obama, in Londonerry, New Hampshire, didn't bring up Plumber (his real last name is Wurzelbacher but it's easier to call him Plumber).  But he sought to clarify his tax plan once again.

I have a different set of priorities. I'll give a middle-class tax cut to 95% of all workers," Obama said.  "And if you make less than $250,000 a year, which includes 98 percent of small business owners, you won't see your taxes increase one single dime. Not your payroll taxes, not your income taxes, not your capital gains taxes – nothing. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class."

Who's right?

The Republican National Committee sent out a press release which included language dated July 14, 2008 from (the non-partisan site devoted to political mythbusting) that seemed to agree with McCain's interpretation of Obama's tax plan.

"McCain is right about one thing. Many small-business owners would indeed see their taxes go up if Obama is elected and raises the top income-tax rates."

But actually going to, you would see they updated their statement.

Update Oct. 16: ABC News reported the morning after the debate that Wurzelbacher admitted to a reporter that he won't actually make enough from his new plumbing business to pay Obama's higher tax rates. ABC said his admission "would seem to indicate that he would be eligible for an Obama tax cut."

Britney Spears

How's Joe the Plumber feeling about the past 24 hours?  He's wiped out. Reuters reports there were 21 reporters in his driveway this morning.

"I'm kind of like Britney Spears having a headache. Everybody wants to know about it," he said.

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