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Published: Sunday, 10/19/2008

'Joe' wildly received on Fox News show

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Already in the national spotlight, Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher last night strode onto the set of Fox News Channel's Huckabee program to thunderous applause.

Host Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate, began by saying that if John McCain wins, he'll largely have Mr. Wurzelbacher to thank.

The Springfield Township resident, invoked repeatedly as "Joe the Plumber" during Wednesday's presidential debate, demurred.

"Hopefully they'll have me to thank for it as far as telling people to get out and find their own answers," Mr. Wurzelbacher said. "That's where I hope they go with it."

In the days since the debate, it became known Mr. Wurzelbacher is not a licensed plumber, is not buying a business that makes enough to be taxed more under Mr. Obama's tax proposals, and has some tax liens against him.

On Friday, the East Valley/Scottsdale Tribune in Arizona reported that Mr. Wurzelbacher's Arizona driver's license was suspended in May, 2000, following nonpayment of a court-imposed fine for civil traffic violations. He lived in Arizona from 1997-2000.

Mr. Huckabee said that Mr. Wurzelbacher only asked a question when Mr. Obama happened to stop by his current neighborhood a week ago. Mr. Huckabee asked how Mr. Wurzelbacher felt about the scrutiny he'd received.

"It actually upsets me," Mr. Wurzelbacher said. "I am a plumber, and just a plumber, and here Barack Obama or John McCain, I mean these guys are going to deal with some serious issues coming up shortly. The media's worried about whether I paid my taxes, they're worried about any number of silly things that have nothing to do with America. They really don't. I asked a question. When you can't ask a question to your leaders anymore, that gets scary. That bothers me."

Mr. Wurzelbacher confronted Mr. Obama over his tax proposals, asserting that the Democratic nominee's plan would tax him more if Mr. Wurzelbacher bought a plumbing business.

In the course of their conversation, Mr. Obama said, "It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody that is behind you, that they have a chance for success, too. I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Mr. Wurzelbacher said some friends advised him to lie low and let everything blow over. But then he got calls of support from friends in the military who told him he asked a good question and didn't back down.

That's why he accepted the invitation to appear on Mr. Huckabee's show, he said.

Mr. Wurzelbacher, dressed in dark jacket, tie, and gray trousers, was seated beside Mr. Huckabee for much of the first 30 minutes of the hour-long program. He received support during the second segment from guest Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Mr. Wurzelbacher's father and son accompanied him to New York City for the program and were in the audience.

He continues to attract other attention. The Associated Press reported that a group of college Republicans in Massachusetts started a Web site aimed at drafting Mr. Wurzelbacher to run in 2010 for the seat of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).

The group says the plumber has a real-world perspective and right attitude to clean up Washington. Miss Kaptur made no mention of a potential challenge from Mr. Wurzelbacher during a news conference yesterday.



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