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Republican Congressional candidate Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher promised a Waterville crowd Thursday night that he intends to serve no more than six years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and would then return to plumbing or some other activity.
Mr. Wurzelbacher, 38, of Springfield Township, said he wasn’t sure he could support mandatory term limits for members of Congress, but said three terms is about as much time as he’d able to stomach of Washington.
“Not 30 years, not 15 years. Those are careers. Those are lifetimes. I have no desire to retire off of your back. I have a desire to serve six years and then go back to plumbing or whatever else I might do,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said, happening to mention the approximate lengths of time two Democratic candidates for the same seat have been in Congress — Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, since 1983, and Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland since 1997.
Mr. Wurzelbacher was working as a plumber in 2008 when he became nationally known for challenging then-candidate Barack Obama about his tax plan during an Obama campaign appearance on Mr. Wurzelbacher’s street. Since then, he has remained a popular figure among Tea Party conservatives.
He said his ability to raise money would given him an advantage in the general election. Mr. Wurzelbacher has an opponent in the March 6 primary, Huron auctioneer Steven Kraus.
“Name ID and ability to raise money are going to be imperative whoever runs against Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich. They both can reach nationally and will. Because I asked that question of Barack Obama you know me as Joe the Plumber. I think it’s absurd, being that I was doing my civic responsibility in asking that question. That being said though, because of that, I can also raise money nationally,” Mr. Wurzelbacher told the crowd of about 40 people at the Browning Retirement Center near Waterville. He was the guest of the Fallen Timbers Republican Club.
He is seeking election to the new 9th Congressional District that stretches through five counties from Toledo to Cleveland.
During his talk, Mr. Wurzelbacher said he would eliminate the Department of Energy and some military bases overseas, reduce federal aid to other countries except for Israel, and eliminate laws and departments that he believes make it more difficult for people to get jobs.
A supporter defended Mr. Wurzelbacher against the criticism that came his way in 2008 that he was not a licensed plumber by saying that a person doesn’t need a license to work as a plumber if he or she is working for a licensed plumber. Mr. Wurzelbacher said, “I never claimed to be a licensed Ohio plumber. I was a plumber in the Air Force. I plumbed all over the world.”
He said he was working on an apprenticeship plumbing program but was derailed at times because for nine years he moved around the country to be close to his son who was living with his ex-wife. He said he got custody of his son, who is now 16, about six months before his encounter with Mr. Obama.
Asked by an audience member for a detailed plan for trimming the national deficit, Mr. Wurzelbacher said too much of the debate is focused on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and defense.
“I want to go line by line and see where all the waste, fraud, and abuse is happening,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said. “Ultimately we do need to reform Medicare and Medicaid, but we need to look at everything first before we start scaring people.”
In his opening pitch, Mr. Wurzelbacher harked back to his trip to Israel in 2009, when he worked a stint as a journalist for PJTV, and likened himself to David taking on Goliath, which he said is big government in the scenario.
“Can you guys be Davids? Can you help me take down Goliath,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said. “I want less big government, more states’ rights.”
He asked for volunteers to knock on doors, make phone calls, and distribute literature, and for people to donate money to his campaign.
In a later interview, Mr. Wurzelbacher defended his refusal to accept Mr. Kraus’ invitations to debate.
“I’m focused on the general [election],” Mr. Wurelbacher said. “I have no intentions to have any kind of petty debates and character assassinations by one side or the other side. Not that that’s what’s going to happen. Steve has the same amount of time I do to get out there, knock on doors, talk to people, and that’s what it comes down to.”
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