DOWNINGTON, Pennsylvania (CNN) - It wasn’t quite the starring role that he had at the last presidential debate, but Joe the plumber still had top billing at the McCain event in Downingtown, Pennsylvania Thursday.
The senator from Arizona didn’t declare himself the winner in Wednesday night’s sparring match with Barack Obama, bestowing that honor instead on America’s newest star, Ohio resident Joe Wurzelbacher.
“My friends, we had a good debate last night. It was a lot of fun, you know. I thought I did pretty well. The real winner last night was Joe the plumber,” said McCain to applause and chants of “Joe.”
“Joe’s the man. He won, and small businesses won across America. They won because the American people are not going to let Senator Obama raise their taxes in a tough economy. They are not going to let him do it, my friends.”
And that wasn’t the last we heard of Joe. McCain again elaborated on what Obama to the Ohio plumber in their weekend meeting.
“He wanted to spread his wealth around. What does that mean? He wants the government to take Joe’s money and give it to somebody else, “McCain said as the crowd booed. “His hard earned dollars. We are not going to stand for that. America didn't become the greatest nation on earth by spreading the wealth; we became the greatest nation on earth by creating new wealth.”
The Republican presidential nominee had more criticism for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. “I agree with the chairman of the FDIC, who said that Secretary of the Treasury in this government is not going enough to help people stay in their homes,” he said. “That has got to be our first priority. Not Wall Street. Not the bankers. Not the investment houses.”
McCain also reprised his debate night line about George W. Bush, which had been left out of his prepared remarks Thursday.
“We can’t spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight: waiting for our luck to change. As I mentioned last night to Senator Obama, I’m not George Bush, and if he wanted to run against George Bush he should have run four years ago.”
Obama holds a double-digit edge over McCain in Pennsylvania in the CNN poll of polls released this week, and his road to capturing the states’ 21 electoral votes looks rocky.
But his friend and constant companion, Senator Joe Lieberman, said that last night changed the dynamic of the race.
“We turned the corner in the debate last night. We changed the momentum. We are on the road to victory in Pennsylvania.”