THE BLADE/LORI KING Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Local congressional candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher picked up the endorsement of a pro-military political action committee Friday.
Mr. Wurzelbacher (R., Springfield Township), known as "Joe the Plumber," is running in the 9th Congressional District against incumbent U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).
Debbie Lee, founder of Move America Forward Political Action Committee, stood with Mr. Wurzelbacher at Lucas County Republican headquarters and said, "We need to redeploy him to the Hill."
She said her organization exists to promote candidates who support the troops in the global war on terrorism.
According to the nonprofit Web site opensecrets.org, MAFPAC has contributed $2,500 to four Republican congressional candidates in this election cycle, including Mr. Wurzelbacher, an Air Force veteran who served from 1991 to 1995.
"It is the first responsibility of our federal government to protect our nation from its enemies abroad and to support the troops who risk their lives to keep us safe,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said.
"There's bad people out there that want to kill Americans just because they can, and we need leaders out there that will step out and talk about it openly, and we need people like Debbie and lots of other groups that, when they come home, they know they're coming to people that are proud of them and love them, and want to make sure they get all the benefits they deserve and are given a hero's welcome," Mr. Wurzelbacher said.
The public event was a rare one for Mr. Wurzelbacher, who has been criticized by fellow Republicans for running too low-profile a campaign. Mr. Wurzelbacher said he has agreed to appear in a televised debate to be sponsored by The Blade and WTVG-TV, Channel 13 on Oct. 25 or 26, with details still to be ironed out.
Ms. Lee’s son Marc Alan Lee, who died Aug. 2, 2006, was the first U.S. Navy SEAL to be killed in the Iraq War. He was credited through his heroism with saving his squad of SEALs and earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor, and a Purple Heart.
She said she advocates on "anything related to the military — rules of engagement that let them be successful over there, their funding, and their benefits," and that she has testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Kaptur spokesman Steve Fought called MAFPAC "a Republican front group."
"They adore Allen West, who is the most extremist Republican in Congress," Mr. Fought said, referring to a Republican congressman from Florida. "It is no surprise they would support an extremist like Joe, the Faux Plumber."
Miss Kaptur has, in the past, received backing from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, but the organization is sitting out this cycle, according to Mr. Fought. Miss Kaptur touts her success at getting funding for veterans' needs, such as a new regional Veterans Administration health care facility in Toledo and a national study by Case Western Reserve University of the mental health challenges of warriors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
She also is considered a driving force for the construction of the World War II Memorial in Washington in 2004.
Mr. Wurzelbacher gained national fame in 2008 when he debated candidate Barack Obama about his plans for a tax increase while Mr. Obama was campaigning on Mr. Wurzelbacher's street.
Mr. Fought calls him a "faux plumber" because he does not hold a plumber's license, while Mr. Wurzelbacher has said the Kaptur aide's description disrespects veterans because he learned plumbing in the Air Force.
Contact Tom Troy at: email@example.com or 419-724-6058.