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

Joe 'The Plumber' 'appalled' with McCain

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Proud Mary

    Is this guy still around? Really?

    December 10, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. calle

    Why didn't he challenge McCain in front of the cameras like he did Obama. Why did he "GET OFF THE BUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Why wait until the dust clears. If your really concerned about your interest challenge any candidate when you feel your interest are threatened. Enough of this. His 15 minutes of fame need to be UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 10, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. Greg in MN

    I didn't care what you thought during the election...and REALLY DON'T CARE NOW!

    And the fact that Palin is your ideal of a good leader makes me like you even less than before. And I didn't think that was possible!

    December 10, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Randy

    I thought that this guy's 15 minutes were up... An unlicenced plumber ought to be estatic that he's earning 250 grand a year. I guess he likes Palin because they both feel some sense of entitlement and lack real substance.

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Al

    Joe has finally become a true politician. On the bright side, he will have the nicest lawn in the neighborhood with all that bull that keeps coming out of his mouth.

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. SB


    The unlicensed plumber, who makes $40,000 and was concerned that Obama's tax plan would cause him to pay higher taxes.

    And then after the above was revealed and that he could only hope to ever make enough money to be above the $250k tax bracket – the GOP kept using him.

    I can't believe the whole Joe the Plumber thing didn't back fire even more than it should have.

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Portland, OR

    Are you kidding me? I thought his 15 minutes were up??

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. dane

    Who really cares what Joe the Plumber has to say anyway.

    1. What does he really know? Nothing!
    2. He is famous now for being a plumber????

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. Anonymous

    who cares what this idiot thinks. If you care then .....need I say more?
    One point everyone is not aware of is that small business owners do not pay that much in taxes anyway. Last time I checked small business owners are the ones that weasel out of paying taxes by writing everything off as a "business" expense

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. L. Gordon

    Joe the plumber wasn't appalled at John McCain's answers. He thinks Sarah Palin is the real deal. How appalled can he be.

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. Don of Iowa

    Just goes to show you Joe the Moron still does not have a clue as to what the election was about. And we all know we can trust his judgement now, even he is upset about McBush. Just imagine how confused he would have been if he had been on the Palin bus and exposed to Palin babbling dribble all day? But then it takes a moron to support and think highly of a moron, just proves what i felt all along, only ignorant clueless republicans supported Palin the joke, now we have proof, Joe just stepped up tp show us who the real moron is, way to go Joe the Loser!!!

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. jim

    Who cares about this guy. He does not represent mainstrearm America [nor does the likes of beck and others] and does not even represent real plumbers that have the correct papers.Does not pay taxes, lies about what he makes and what the company makes but its 'poor old Joe' when people start digging in this guys background.Palin is the same piece of work, but in the end it comes down to what the repubs and John ' my friend' McCain would do to win .Who cares about Joe or Sarah.[I would love to see a debate between those two. I bet joe would kick our half-baked alaska girl butt.

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. Walt

    Well... I'm appalled by what Sarah Palin said. So what?
    Why is this guy still news? I'm not sure if I'm reading CNN or TMZ. Joe's 15 minutes are over.
    Move on CNN.

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. Thomas

    Joe, your fifteen minutes of fame are over.

    You were a political tool that the GOP tried to use. They never cared about you then, and after the election care about you less. They only pretended to care about you as long as you were useful to them.

    You are no longer useful to them nor to us. Enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame and go back to plumbing.

    December 10, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. johny

    Glenn Beck is not a journalist. Joe the Plumber is not a licensed plumber. Sarah Palin is not a maverick. The G.O.P. has been split into the conservative wing and the wing nut wing.

    December 10, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. Retired Veteran from New York City, NY

    Anybody that believes that Sarah Palin is the real deal, needs to be checked out. Sarah Palin probably energizes the base of the Republican Party, however, nationally no canditate could win a major election withtout the voter of certain voters of the other party. Sarah Palin only energizes the blinds, the olds, the red-necks, the biggots, the religious-nuts and the losts. She will never elevate to a national competition because the knowledge is lacking. Being the Governor of Alaska will not be enough to move her past the frontier line.

    December 10, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. President Barack Obama

    Anything to try to keep his 15 minutes of fame alive...... What a Scrub.

    No one REALLY CARES what you think Joe The Dork!!

    December 10, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. dave

    Who cares?

    December 10, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  19. Carl

    As a Democrat I am absolutely delighted that Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher, Rush Limbaugh, Sara Palin and James Dobson represent the future of the republican party today. With this cast of characters the pubs should remain out of power for the next 20 years. lol

    December 10, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. Greg

    WHY IS THIS GUY STILL IN THE NEWS? First, let me say that I'll bet Joe was a plant from the beginning, strategically placed in Obama's path so they could have that exchange on camera and McCain could use Joe as a symbol . . . but that's neither here nor there. Why are we interested in this guy's opinion on the economy, Israeli relations, etc.? At what point do we get to say "Thanks for all the insightful acumen, Joe, now please get back to fixing my toilet." I hope Palin tries to resurrect this guy in four or eight years. He's every bit the albatross she was to McCain . . . nothing more than late night TV fodder.

    December 10, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. James, Ho. TX

    Joe the Plumber: it was always believed You were a "Plant" by the McCain Group within the Obama rally. You allowed yourself to be used for that purpose. Why the sorrow notes Now? Not enough money? However, did you turn around and vote for Obama?
    It appears Your still hanging on to Palin's skirts !

    December 10, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. joel palmer

    Joe the Plumber is a phony and a fraud. First his name is not Joe; second he is NOT a licnsed plumber; third he has abetter chnace of catching polio than he does of ever getting near a quarter million dollars annualy. With that out of the way, he represents the 20 percent of Americans who are deadenders; who think Bush is doing a fine job; who hate immigrants (and want English as our offcial language); who think everyone on welfare is cheating; who vote against their own economic self interest; and who are patently and unreasonably gun nuts who see nothing wrong with automatic weapons for everyone.

    We need to shun these people who refuse to be educated and informed; the best that we can hope for is that they don't even vote. These are the folks that gave you George Wallace; Richard Nixon (twice); George Bush (twice) and think the Iraq War is against the 9/11 attackers. Forget thse mouth breathers and stop giving them any press; they will nominate Sarah Palin if you so much as give them any ink.

    December 10, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  23. Chuck

    Who cares about this idiot anyway. i can't believe he's sill getting press. His 15 minutes are long over.

    December 10, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  24. Will

    Idiot...cant stand this jerk...

    December 10, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  25. Dave

    Most conservatives were also appalled with McCain. He was liberal- republican and we never win with those. We win with staunch conservatives like Reagan, Bush (before he raised taxes), GWBush. Mitt Romney would have crushed the socialist Barry O.

    December 10, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
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