December 10th, 2008
11:55 AM ET
5 years ago

Joe 'The Plumber' 'appalled' with McCain

Joe 'The Plumber' Wurzelbacher said he was 'appalled' with some of what McCain said.
Joe 'The Plumber' Wurzelbacher said he was 'appalled' with some of what McCain said.

(CNN) – With the dust still settling from the 2008 presidential race, one of its biggest celebrities lashed out Tuesday at the man who made him famous.

Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher, the Ohio voter who challenged President-elect Barack Obama on his tax plan and later became a hero of John McCain's presidential bid, said Tuesday he felt "appalled" at some of his interactions with the Arizona senator, and soon felt the need to ditch his campaign.

Speaking with conservative talk-radio host Glenn Beck, Wurzelbacher said he was specifically at odds with McCain's support over the massive $700 billion bailout, a measure many conservatives opposed despite McCain's attempts to shepherd the bill on Capitol Hill.

“When I was on the bus with him, I asked him a lot of questions about the bailout because most Americans did not want that to happen,” Wurzelbacher told Beck. “I asked him some pretty direct questions,” he continued. “Some of the answers…they appalled me, absolutely. I was angry.

"In fact, I wanted to get off the bus after I talked to him."

Wurzelbacher rocketed to stardom during the third and final presidential debate, when McCain referenced the Ohio plumber's direct challenge of Obama's tax proposals. On an Obama campaign swing shortly before that debate, Wurzelbacher approached the Democratic presidential nominee while cameras rolled and challenged the candidate over his plan to raise taxes on those making over $250,000. Wurzelbacher said that could mean his taxes would go up if he ever achieved his goal of owning a plumbing business.

McCain jumped at the opportunity to use Wurzelbacher as a symbol of all small business owners who could potentially be penalized under Obama's plan, and his name was repeatedly invoked by both the Republican presidential nominee and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

But Wurzelbacher never appeared completely comfortable being used as a tool of the McCain campaign, and notably failed to show up at one campaign rally - prompting the Arizona senator to embarrassingly call out to him to no avail.

Despite his disappointment with McCain though, Wurzelbacher praised Palin as "absolutely the real deal."


Filed under: Joe the plumber
soundoff (584 Responses)
  1. Liberty

    Joe the plumber is right and this is why Republicans are lsing power. I refused to vote for Saxy Chambliss because of his support for bailout. Tom Price (Representative) stood up and said NO to the bailout- Tom Price should be the next republican presidential candidate. I emailed Saxby C. before his vote and after to explain my reasons for not voiting for someone who supports socialist agenda.

    December 10, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  2. M. Taylor

    Why is this clown still news? Wish I could work the talk show circut and not work.

    December 10, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Da Professor

    Ah ha ... Joe the GOP pawn surfaces once again. And he loves Palin the pawn from Alaska? Will this Republican party ever learn?

    I will be patient. I will not reregister from Republican to Independent, not yet at least. But soon perhaps if this nonsense keeps up.

    First we get Bushy, the pawn of Rove and Cheney. Who will be next? And to think that I was once the Vice-Chairman of my town's Conservative Party. Now that Party has gove so far right that the Nazi Party is jumping out of their way. It is SAD!

    December 10, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Anyone who supports Palin can't be to smart – two peas in a pod! A plumber making $250,000/year – wish I made that!!!

    December 10, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. G.R.I.T.S. - Girl Raised in the South

    I am appalled by Joe the (fake) Plumber!

    December 10, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. Hannah Stevens

    If anyone thinks that Palin couldn't come back and be selected as a candidate for the Republicans, just look at what they have brought so far. A movie star and a failed C student, pseudo business man and governor of Texas. They didn't know anything about foreign policy either, but the PNAC who directed them did. I think the religious right who wants to see America as a christian fundamentalist country, will do everything thay can to undermine Barrack Obama and try to get Palin in in 2012. They are kin to the Taliban.

    December 10, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. CHANGE HAS COME TO AMERICA - FINALLY!!!

    trying to stretch that 15mins of fame buddy?

    too late already!

    December 10, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  8. Anonymous

    He should indeed stick to plumbing, even though hes not educated in the trade, because his apparent "knowledge" of politics is far less impressive than his dubious track record as a toilet cleaner.

    December 10, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. beevee

    Now this Joe suddenly becomes an expert on national economy. Come on. McCain thought he would gain by using Joe the plumber in public opinion but that did not work out. The media should stop caring for this Joe. He may be thinking of becoming Palin's vice-presidential running mate in praising her or he may not be thinking with his head.

    December 10, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  10. stuart_zechman

    Ha ha ha stupid republicans. You lost and our Obama is the man. Deal with it losers!

    December 10, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  11. Phil

    Let's see, this goof ball was supposed to represent the average American. So the average American works illegally as an unlicensed tradesman, refuses to pay their taxes to the point that the Republican, conservative state of Ohio put a lien on your property, lies and in an act of betrayal bites the hand that gave them 15 minutes of fame (infamy?).

    Wow, glad the Republicans think so highly of Americans. Thankfully, America didn't buy into the lie that Ms. Palin was ready for President, and no one believes this low life represents the average American. Now if we can just get the press to stop paying attention to this guy!!

    December 10, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  12. S.M

    Seems to me that Joe the Plumber enjoyed his first fifteen minutes of fame until the reporters started digging into his personal finances. At first Joe the Plumber said that Obama had approached him, when in fact he approached President elect Obama. When things got too hot in the kitchen than he decided to have second thoughts about McCain.

    McCain was only using Joe to promote his own agenda, while making a fool of him.

    December 10, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  13. RO

    He should have been forthwright if he was "appauled" at McCain! In other words, he liked the limelight or was starstruck with Palin.

    December 10, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  14. Scott

    Who at CNN decided this was newsworthy?

    December 10, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  15. jlynch

    Wonder if he thought about THIS before taking the book deal? If he makes any profit (and I'm sure he will....remember how many sheep fell in behind him and made signs–um, duh), he WILL be taxed now by Obama's plan. Ha! Sweet Irony!

    The squeaky wheel doesn't always get the oil...sometimes it just gets taken off!

    December 10, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  16. Anonymous

    im apalled that this "plumber " thought he made over 250k a year

    December 10, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  17. pittsburgh

    Joe
    Shame on you. You have a book deal because of McCain. People know your name becasue of Mcain. You travel out of your community free of charge because of McCain. Shame shame on you for saying anyting negative about the person who made you a household name.

    December 10, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  18. S

    If Joe the dumber plumber was so appalled and felt holier than thou about McCain and had strong beliefs and conservative values, he should've gotten off that straight talk express bus and said this publicly not after the fact (shows he was hoping to get some political capital out of it and wanted to see how far he could run with it or how far McCain could take him)- it was just a case os symbiotic selfishness.

    December 10, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  19. Carramia

    I always thought Joe the Plumber was a sham. All this crud about socialist countries. Then on Hannity and Colmes it came out he had been on welfare twice. When he needed the bucks he had no trouble with a socialist safety net. Said it was due to him . After that I considered him fluff like Palin

    December 10, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. Johnny from SC

    I miss you Joe the unlicensed Plumber. LOL....See this is a perfect example of the far right believeing in a party instead of the best canidate. When you're willing to vote for someone whose politics you don't believe in simply because you follow a party good or bad than you're wasting your vote. If you're not going to vote for someone with the hope that they will help better your state, your country, or yourself then your not using logic. I voted for Obama.. But I also voted for Gresham Barrett a Republican. These guys get it. The purpose of the Goverment is to make decisions that will better our country and it's citizens. Joe did the right thing by not showing up for the rally with McCain. However; Joe should have said these things before not afterwards. I know he was put in an awkward situation. But when you're put in front of America you need to express what you really think about the canidates you support. If McCain had of been elected I think we all would have been appalled.

    December 10, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. JC

    Moron....
    by the way, Glenn, I usually don't agree with you, but at least I respected you. But with your choice of the guest. Not anymore.

    December 10, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  22. Hussein Mberwa, NY

    Who cares what this guy rlly thinks or says. americans made the smart move already by electing the right person for the job at the right time. this plumber guy should keep his mouth shut.. and wait to see if our president elect is a marxist, or a socialist like the way his low IQ made him judge Mr. Obama during the campaign..
    just keep your mouth shut ...

    December 10, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  23. Kobooh, Raleigh, NC

    Now you are telling us what we all knew already that the man (McCain) was a mess. What took you so long and what an opportunist you are?

    December 10, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  24. brian

    Of course he thinks Palin is the real deal, they both have a fundamental lack of grasp of how things like the economy function.

    December 10, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. Colby

    This guy wouldn't know a sure thing if it slapped him in the face and now he's praising the dim-wit from Alaska as "absolutely the real deal." We all knew that McCain's ideology was obsolete and condescending to even some of the staunches conservatives in his own party. McCain/Palin used this pawn to their advantage (which lasted a mere 24 hours of unsubstantiated popularity after his encounter with Obama) and then ditched him at one of their pathetic last-minute rallies after his lack of usefulness became apparent. Save us all and go back to your business of shaving your head and being the redneck that he truly is.

    December 10, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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