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Published: 10/28/2008

'Joe the Plumber' calls John McCain 'a real American'

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBIS BUREAU CHIEF

Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher made his debut on the campaign trail Tuesday, endorsed Republican John McCain for president and calling him "a real American."

Mr. Wurzelbacher was in the midst of a 5-city tour in central and southern Ohio today, encouraging Ohioans to vote next week.

He also said he had hired a lawyer and intended to sue those responsible for illegally disclosing his personal information from government databases.

From earlier editions of toledoblade.com

COLUMBUS - Samuel "Joe the Plumber'' Wurzelbacher at his first campaign stop, sidestepped the economic message that his "Joe the Plumber Tour'' was designed to convey when he endorsed a statement made by a member of the audience in Columbus that "a vote for Obama is a vote to the death of Israel.''

"I agree with you,'' he said. "I really think that would be a problem.''

Rob Portman, a former Cincinnati congressman and White House budget director, served as emcee for Joe and the other "Joes'' that the tour was designed to highlight. He shook his head when asked after the Columbus event if he agreed that support for Mr. Obama was support for "death to Israel.''

He noted that the man who originally made the comment was not associated with the campaign. The man had identified himself as a Jewish senior citizen.

Mr. Wurzelbacher also said Tuesday he's considering a lawsuit over the fact that government workers have apparently searched some records pertaining to him since he challenged Barack Obama on his tax policy two weeks ago.

"I have contacted a lawyer,'' he said as he formally hit the political stump for the first time since his conversation with Mr. Obama in his Springfield Township driveway led to his name becoming synonymous with Republican John McCain's campaign.

"Other than that, that's as far as I've gone with it,'' he said. "I'd like to see justice done. That's just for other people who dare ask their elected officials a question. They shouldn't have to go through the scrutiny that I've gone through. It shouldn't have to bother their families the way it's bothered my family.''

Investigations are under way into why child support, driver's license, vehicle registration, and other computer records pertaining to Mr. Wurzelbacher had been accessed after he was thrust into the political limelight.

He has yet to meet Mr. McCain, but he formally endorsed him Tuesday at the first stop of a five-stop tour of central and southwestern Ohio.

Mr. Wurzelbacher became a national celebrity when he asked Mr. Obama about his plan to raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 while promising tax cuts to the other 95 percent of Americans.

Mr. Obama had approached Mr. Wurzelbacher two weeks ago while in the Toledo area preparing for the final presidential debate. The employee of a plumber's business said Mr. Obama's policy could hurt him if he someday pursues his dream of buying a plumbing business, something he's not currently close to doing.

"It's not that I want to punish your success,'' Mr. Obama told him. "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.''

"Joe the Plumber'' and the "spread the wealth around'' comment quickly became staples of the speeches of Mr. McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Most recently, Mr. McCain has dubbed Mr. Obama the "Redistributor.''

Mr. Wurzelbacher said Monday he agrees that Mr. Obama's policies smack of socialism.

"Once you start somewhere and set a precedent, where's it going to go next?'' he asked. "Is he going to decide that $225,000 is too much or $200,000? Yeah, it worries me.''

While a novice at politics, Mr. Wurzelbacher is thinking about jumping into the arena himself. He has talked about running against U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).

Contact Jim Provance at:jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

From earlier editions of toledoblade.com.

COLUMBUS The question of when Joe the Plumber would hit the road for John McCain has finally been answered and the answer is today.

The Joe the Plumber Tour, featuring Samuel Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher, is expected to make its first stop in Columbus this morning and then head west toward Dayton and then south to Cincinnati.

The campaign announcement stated that Rob Portman, the former Cincinnati congressman and White House budget director, would make the tour with a special guest, but it has been confirmed that the guest is the tour s namesake.

Mr. Wurzelbacher became a national celebrity when he challenged Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on his tax policies two weeks ago when the candidate approached him in his Springfield Township driveway. Mr. Obama was in the Toledo area preparing for the final presidential debate.

He told Mr. Obama that his plan to raise taxes for those making more than $250,000 a year could hurt him if he someday realizes his dream of buying a plumber s business.

It s not that I want to punish your success, Mr. Obama told him. 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 does not earn that kind of money as an employee of the plumber s business, nor is he close to being able to make such a purchase. Mr. Obama has pledged to lower taxes for 95 percent of Americans.

But his exchange with Mr. Obama gave Mr. McCain a face and name to attach to his criticism of Mr. Obama s tax policies, and the candidate never fails to bring up Joe on the stump.

Mr. McCain has even begun calling Mr. Obama the redistributor.

But, less than a week out from the election, Mr. Wurzelbacher has yet to appear with the Republican nominee.

The tour is expected to visit with other Ohio Joes running small businesses to promote Mr. McCain s own policies of job creation. The first stop will be the Flag Lady s Flag Store in Columbus.

Owner Mary Leavitt is a McCain supporter who led the Pledge of Allegiance at the Republican National Convention in September.

That will be followed by stops at a pub in Dayton, a pool business in Middletown, and a florist in Milford. The tour will finish in Cincinnati with a meeting with campaign volunteers.



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