RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) –- Joe the plumber is getting some company on the campaign trail.
“Let’s be clear who Senator McCain is fighting for, he’s not fighting for Joe the plumber. He’s fighting for Joe the hedge fund manager. John McCain likes to talk about Joe the plumber but he’s in cahoots with Joe the CEO. So don’t be fooled, don’t let them hoodwink you,” Obama told thousands at a mid-afternoon rally.
Obama’s now infamous conversation with Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher has become a rallying point for both the Democratic and Republican candidates.
McCain has repeatedly said Obama’s tax plan would punish Joe the plumber because the Democratic nominee wants to change the income distribution to help those making less and thereby hurt entrepreneurs and those trying to get ahead. Obama counters that he wants to give a tax cut to the majority of working Americans and roll back the Bush tax cuts to the rates that existed under President Bill Clinton where the wealthier paid more.
In recent days Obama has taken to highlighting statements McCain made in 2001 in which he said he could not support President Bush’s tax cuts because “so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief.”
“I had a nice conversation the other day with Joe the plumber. Joe is cool. I’ve got no problems with Joe. All I want to do is give Joe a tax cut,” Obama said. “We can give relief to the nurse and the teacher and the bus driver and the janitor. John McCain calls that socialism.”
A reporter asked Obama at a press conference earlier whether his comment to Wurzelbacher that he wanted to “spread the wealth around” had given Republicans an opening in the campaign’s final weeks.
“They have been trying to throw whatever they can against the wall to see what sticks and this their latest version,” Obama said. “Was John McCain a socialist back in 2000 when he opposed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Cause all I’m trying to do is reverse those so that we can give relief to people who really need help. It’s not a very plausible argument that he’s making right now and I think it’s an indication that they have run out of ideas.”