(CNN) – Joe the Plumber was the star of the final presidential debate on Wednesday night. But who is he?
Watch: Obama meets 'Joe the plumber'
Last weekend, while Barack Obama was canvassing for support in the small town of Holland, Ohio, the Democratic nominee ran into a tall, bald man, since dubbed Joe the plumber. He asked Obama if he believed in the American Dream — he said he was about to buy a company that makes more than $250,000 a year and was concerned that the Democratic nominee would tax him more because of it.
Obama explained his tax plan in depth, saying it’s better to lower taxes for Americans who make less money, so that they could afford to buy from his business. John McCain attacked Obama for this exchange, saying the Illinois senator is trying to “spread the wealth around.”
“We're going to take Joe's money, give it to Senator Obama, and let him spread the wealth around. I want Joe the plumber to spread the wealth around,” McCain said. He added, “Why would you want to increase anybody's taxes right now? Why would you want to do that to anyone, anyone in America, when we have such a tough time?”
Joe the plumber was mentioned 11 times at the beginning of the debate, nine times by McCain and twice by Obama.
Watch: Voters sour on 'Joe the plumber' story
(CNN) – Does John McCain recommend a spending freeze to help stabilize the economy, or want the government to purchase bad mortgages from struggling homeowners? Well, according to his answers during Tuesday night’s debate, both.
Early in the debate, McCain recommended that the federal government buy up bad mortgages from landowners and replace them with lower cost, fixed-rate mortgages, which he said would help keep Americans in their homes.
“I would order the Secretary of the Treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of the homes at the diminished value of the homes and let people make those, make the payments and stay in their homes,” McCain said. “Is it expensive? Yes.”
But later in the debate, when asked what sacrifices the American people would need to make to help revive the economy, McCain recommended a “spending freeze.” The Republican nominee said the government should cut wasteful programs and eliminate earmarks.
“We're going to have to tell the American people that spending is going to have to be cut in America,” McCain said. “And I recommend a spending freeze that except for defense, veterans affairs and some other vital programs, we'll just have to have an across the board freeze.”
(CNN) – John McCain said at the top of Tuesday’s debate that he would consider eBay’s former chief executive, Meg Whitman, to be his Treasury Secretary, saying she “inspires trust and confidence” in the American people.
“She knows what it is like to be out there in the marketplace,” said McCain. “She knows how to create jobs. Meg Whitman was CEO of a company that started with 12 people and is, now 1.3 million in America make their living off eBay.”
But in these troubled economic times, there are few corporate poster children: this week, eBay announced that it will cut 1,600 jobs across the country — roughly 10 percent of its work force. Whitman stepped down as president and CEO of the company in March, but she had been in charge since 1998.
Barack Obama and John McCain also praised billionaire Warren Buffet, who McCain credited with trying to stabilize the economy by giving advice and investing in Wall Street firms.
(CNN) – Following the hallowed pre-debate tradition, Democrats spent the hours before Tuesday night’s presidential debate praising GOP nominee John McCain.
The Democratic National Committee released a Web video Tuesday afternoon featuring footage of analysts, and McCain himself, highlighting his prowess in and ease with the night’s town hall format.
“Since McCain is the undisputed champion of the town hall, anything less than a game-changing performance tonight would be major disappointment,” said DNC spokesman Damien LaVera.
Earlier in the day, Barack Obama’s campaign looked to set similar high expectations for his opponent. “When it comes to sheer format, we enter today’s debate the decided underdog,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton in a memo sent to reporters. “John McCain does extremely well in town hall settings. It’s been his favorite format throughout his career and we think that he will of course do very well.”
He also used less-complimentary language the campaign has used to describe McCain, describing the Republican as “erratic” and desperate: “John McCain is running out of time for a game-changing event,” he said.
McCain and Obama are slated to face off in Nashville this evening.
(CNN) – Barack Obama said Monday that John McCain is intentionally trying to avoid talking about the economic crisis because it would hurt the Republican nominee’s presidential campaign.
As the stock market dropped even more on Monday afternoon and affected markets around the world, Obama criticized McCain for playing politics over talking about his plan to fix the economy.
“I have got news for the McCain campaign, the American people are losing right now,” Obama told reporters in Asheville, North Carolina. “They are losing their jobs, they are losing their healthcare, they are losing their homes, they are losing their savings, I cannot image anything more important to talk about than the economic crisis.”
Obama encouraged Congress to work on a second economic stimulus package that would provide direct relief from high gas and food prices and said Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke need to move quickly to restore confidence in the economy.
Obama said the next steps are to work to improve the housing market and to extend unemployment insurance.
The Democratic nominee said both candidates need to address their plans for the economy during the debate in Nashville on Tuesday night.
(CNN) – While answering a question on benefits for same sex couples during the vice presidential debate, Sarah Palin said she would be tolerant about Americans “choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves.”
Palin used similar wording when talking about a lesbian friend in an interview with CBS’s Katie Couric earlier this week, in comments that seemed to suggest she believes homosexuality is a choice.
“She is one of my best friends who happens to have made a choice that isn't a choice I would have made,” Palin said.
(CNN) – Sarah Palin crossed the stage, waving and blowing a kiss to the audience, on her way to meet her rival face-to-face for the first time at the vice presidential debate on Thursday night.
Palin and Joe Biden shook hands and smiled at each other.
“Nice to meet you,” Palin said. “Hey, can I call you Joe?”
“You can call me Joe,” Biden responded.
(CNN) –- A veterans group that has run ads against Democrat Barack Obama in several battleground states is the Democratic nominee in a new multi-million dollar ad campaign that accuses him of caring more about his campaign than about troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Barack Obama skipped 45 percent of Senate votes, but did manage to show up to vote against emergency funding for our troops,” the narrator says in the new 30-second spot from Veterans for Freedom. “Obama was chairman of the committee overseeing the fight against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan but never held a single hearing. “...Obama found time to make 45 trips to Iowa but only two trips to Iraq."
The new ad was set to debut in California Wednesday, and the group plans to spend $2.2 million to keep it on the air for the next nine days.
Obama’s campaign has objected to the charge that he voted against funding the troops, saying the Illinois senator voted against an Iraq supplemental spending bill that did not include a withdrawal timeline, but supported one that did. McCain voted against that Iraq funding bill, instead supporting one that did not include a timeline.
The Democrat’s campaign has also objected to the charge that the subcommittee he chairs failed to conduct proper oversight of the situation in Afghanistan, and that those hearings were handled through the full Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That committee is chaired by Obama’s running mate, Delaware Senator Joe Biden.
Veterans for Freedom’s 527 arm, which directed much of its 2006 ad spending, lists just a handful of donors this year — the bulk of the group’s budget is now handled out of its non-profit 501 (c) arm, which does not have to disclose its donors under current federal campaign finance regulations. The group has aired several anti-Obama ads this year.
(CNN) –- As the Senate prepared for an expected Wednesday evening vote on the financial bailout package, Barack Obama’s campaign released a new ad Wednesday that portrayed John McCain as a “big spender” who would add $3 trillion to the national debt.
Citing statistics from TaxPolicyCenter.org, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the McCain campaign Web site, “Spending Spree” charges that McCain’s tax and spending proposals would drive up America’s debt by trillions of dollars.
Watch: The Obama campaign's latest ad calls McCain a 'big spender'
“So as we borrow from China to fund his spending spree, ask yourself. Can we afford John McCain?” a narrator asks in the ad, which start running in “key states” Wednesday, according to the Obama campaign.
The ad comes one day after the Republican National Committee’s independent expenditure unit released a new spot, set to run in battleground states, that looks to tie Obama to the bailout plan before Congress, and holds him responsible for the $1 trillion in new spending that may result.
"Who pays? You do. New taxes. New spending. New debt. Barack Obama’s plan: It will make the problem worse," says the announcer in the 30-second spot.
(CNN) – Democratic leadership reacted to John McCain’s Wednesday announcement that he wants to return to Capitol Hill to work on the economic bailout plan and postpone the first debate by saying “presidential politics” should stay out of the negotiations.
Democrats on the Hill told CNN’s Jessica Yellin that after days of negotiations, they are close to coming to a consensus. If McCain comes back to Washington in the final stretch, they said they fear the Republican nominee may take credit for the deal.
Related: Democrats call McCain move a "stunt"
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said with the economy in turmoil, now is the perfect time for the candidates to discuss the issues on the national stage.
“It would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy,” Reid said in a statement. “If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership, not a campaign photo op.”