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Published: Thursday, 10/30/2008

McCain finally shares stage with Joe the Plumber


ELYRIA After the two missed hooking up in Defiance, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain and "Joe the Plumber" finally shared a stage, in Sandusky and again in Elyria, Ohio on Thursday.

An obviously pleased Mr. McCain introduced Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, 34, on the gazebo in Washington Park in the city of Sandusky along Lake Erie, after mistakenly introducing the absent plumber several hours earlier in Defiance.

"Do you think that Joe deserved what the Obama campaign," Mr. McCain began to say, finishing, "and what they ve been doing to him, my friends?"

He said it was "disgraceful" that somebody who stands up for America asks a "tough question" about taxes and then gets "attacked."

"He deserves our appreciation," Mr. McCain said.

The Obama campaign has denied any role in digging up details about Mr. Wurzelbacher, or in criticizing him.

John McCain knows that his wild and desperate accusations aren t true,

but will say anything at this point because he s out of ideas, out of touch,

and can t name a single major thing he d do differently on the economy than

George Bush," said Obama spokesman Isaac Baker. "We ve been very clear that

the accessing of these records had nothing to do with our campaign, and that

any invasion of privacy should be investigated fully."

The Ohio Highway Patrol is investigating four searches of information in state databases, including from the Toledo Police Department, in the hours after Mr. McCain mentioned "Joe the Plumber" in a national debate.

Mr. Wurzelbacher had an impromptu discussion about taxes with Mr. Obama, in which Mr. Obama said his proposals would "spread the wealth around." Three days later Mr. McCain praised him by name in a national debate for extracting the phrase that the Republican campaign has portrayed as socialism.

In Sandusky, Mr. Wurzelbacher urged listeners to "get informed."

"Don t take everyone s opinions," Mr. Wurzelbacher said. "Get involved in the government. That way we can hold our politicians accountable and, you know, take back our government. It s all ours."

He told the crowd to "vote for a real American, John McCain."

Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook drove Mr. Wurzelbacher to Sandusky after Mr. Wurzelbacher called him and asked for a ride.

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