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Published: Thursday, 5/24/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Wurzelbacher: Biden's plumber joke 'elitist'

Kaptur rival claims comment demeans workers

Samuel 'Joe the Plumber' Wurzelbacher says he was trained to be a plumber in the Air Force. He does not have a license. Samuel 'Joe the Plumber' Wurzelbacher says he was trained to be a plumber in the Air Force. He does not have a license.
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Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher slammed Vice President Joe Biden over what he perceived as a put-down of plumbers.

Campaigning at Keene State College in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Mr. Biden, a Democrat, was criticizing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and said running a private equity firm, as Mr. Romney did, does not qualify one to be president.

"Your job as President is to promote the common good -- that doesn't mean the private equity guys are bad guys. They're not. But that no more qualifies you to be President than being a plumber," Mr. Biden joked to laughter. "And by the way, there are a lot of awful smart plumbers."

Mr. Wurzelbacher labeled Mr. Biden's comments "elitism."

"Since when is it Joe Biden's job to tell the American people who is and isn't qualified to be President?" said Mr. Wurzelbacher of Springfield Township, the Republican nominee for Congress in Ohio's 9th District against incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur of Toledo.

"This type of elitism and class warfare are the reasons why I've gotten into this campaign. Instead of demeaning the workers who built our country, I'm going to stand up for all the blue-collar voters and regular folks who feel left behind by political elitism and divisive politics," Mr. Wurzelbacher said.

It was not clear whether Mr. Biden meant that a plumber is not qualified to be president, or that an equity manager is no more qualified to be president than he is a plumber.

Mr. Romney co-founded and headed Bain Capital between 1984 and 1999. Democrats claim Mr. Romney as president would show no concern for ordinary workers because of Bain's record in some cases of driving companies into bankruptcy while earning fees and dividends.

This was not the first time Mr. Wurzelbacher has felt slighted by Democratic politicians over his livelihood. Last month, Mr. Wurzelbacher accused the Kaptur campaign of dismissing his service in the Air Force stemming from Kaptur campaign manager Steve Fought's reference to Mr. Wurzelbacher as a "faux plumber." Mr. Wurzelbacher does not have a plumbing license or union membership.

He said "the fact that Marcy's campaign calls me a 'faux plumber' because I was trained as a plumber in the Air Force, just shows you how out of touch she is when it comes to veterans' issues."

Mr. Wurzelbacher said veterans struggle to have their military training acknowledged as work experience in the civilian world.

"I know this firsthand, because after learning a trade and gaining skills as a plumber in the U.S. Air Force, union shops would not recognize my training. So I went to work as a plumber with an independent contractor after serving my country honorably," he said.

He said he would work with Congress, Veterans Affairs, and allied veterans groups to ensure that veterans have easier access to employment opportunities when they return from service.

Mr. Fought said Democrats have led the way for increased funding for veterans services, including health care. He said Mr. Wurzelbacher should support President Obama's proposal for tax credits for companies that hire unemployed veterans, including wounded warriors.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.

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