COLUMBUS -- In 2008, Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher gave John McCain a face to put on his criticisms of Barack Obama's policies.
Now that Mr. Wurzelbacher has taken his own step into politics with his Republican challenge of Democratic U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the Arizona senator and former presidential candidate says he's willing to return the favor.
"I am certainly glad when anybody wants to run to serve their country, and I'm sure if he asks for my help, I'm glad to do it," Mr. McCain told The Blade on Monday. He was in Columbus stumping and raising money for Josh Mandel, Ohio's treasurer and the GOP candidate taking on Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in November.
Mr. McCain said he's received no such call, but Mr. Wurzelbacher said he'll take the senator up on his invitation.
"John McCain is a veteran of politics," he said. "I'd be a fool not to. Mama didn't raise any fools."
Mr. Wurzelbacher was reached Monday in Washington, where he was participating in a tax day eve rally.
"He brings the voice of the working man," Mr. McCain said. "Obviously, he's a person who's had to struggle with jobs in this economic situation in one of the hardest hit parts of the state of Ohio."
Mr. Wurzelbacher was working for a small plumbing business in 2008 when he approached then-Senator Obama while Mr. Obama walked down a Springfield Township street. Mr. Obama was in Toledo preparing for a presidential debate with Mr. McCain.
He questioned the future president's proposal to roll back Bush-era tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 a year, a move Mr. Wurzelbacher told him could hurt him if he someday decided to buy the business.
Mr. Wurzelbacher soon found himself redubbed "Joe the Plumber" as Mr. McCain frequently referred to him during that debate as he criticized Mr. Obama's policies. Mr. Wurzelbacher hit the road with Mr. McCain late in the campaign, but the Republican went on to lose battleground Ohio by 4 percentage points.
As for the possibility that U.S. Sen. Rob Portman could be selected as likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney's running mate, Mr. McCain said, "He's an outstanding choice. He has a better grasp of the issues challenging our economy than anyone else in Washington in my view."
Mr. McCain considered Mr. Portman, a former White House budget director under President George W. Bush, to be on his ballot but ultimately passed him over for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. He declined to say how close Mr. Portman came to making the cut.
"Everybody came close," Mr. McCain said.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.