March 8th, 2012
08:28 AM ET
11 years ago

'Joe the Plumber' explains qualification for run

(CNN) – Samuel Wurzelbacher, the Ohio Congressional candidate best known as "Joe the Plumber," said Thursday his status as an American citizen was qualification enough to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In an interview on CNN's "Early Start," Wurzelbacher said he had developed a new political awareness in the four years since his rise to fame as a backer of then-presidential candidate John McCain.

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"For the last four years I've gone around building houses, taking trees down, plumbing, and speaking at different events around the country encouraging Americans to really get informed on who they're going to vote for and stop voting on 30-second soundbites and make sure their vote counts and then really exercise their civic responsibility as an American," Wurzelbacher said.

Wurzelbacher rose to GOP fame in 2008 when he challenged then-presidential candidate and Sen. Barack Obama over his small business tax plan.

The confrontation quickly became a popular anecdote in the presidential election and was frequently used as a campaign message by Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee, and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Asked Thursday what qualified him to run for office, Wurzelbacher noted his active political involvement.

"What qualifies me, one, I'm an American citizen," Wurzelbacher said. "Two, I'm very much involved in the process of what's going on. I guess my question would be, what qualifies the current politicians who are killing our country – Republicans and Democrats alike."

He added he thought the qualification question seemed "silly."

When confronted with past statements proclaiming "queer" not to be a derogatory term and suggesting he wouldn't allow gay people around his children, Wurzelbacher accused CNN of asking a "gotcha question."

"So this is TMZ, this isn't CNN, is what you're saying," Wurzelbacher shot at host Zoraida Sambolin.

Pressed further to explain whether or not he still held the same views toward homosexuals, Wurzelbacher explained his focus was on improving the jobs picture for all Americans.

"I'm going to work towards all Americans – homosexual, straight. They want jobs. That's what it comes down to," Wurzelbacher said. "I'm allowed to have my opinions as an American but it seems the left has become very intolerant when you have an opinion other than what they state."

On Tuesday Wurzelbacher won a Republican primary in Ohio's 9th Congressional District. He will face Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the longest serving woman in the House of Representatives, in the fall.

Filed under: Congress • Ohio
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Evangenital

    Besides, Sarah Palin encouraged me to wrong. I'll fix your toilet if you vote for me.

    March 8, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  2. Lee

    Too bad the GOP could not find one single person in that district with any civil service and/or executive experience. Not even a community organizer available? This guy is riding on name recognition alone? He will probably do no better or worse than the rest of them, but it just amazes me that people will elect any "joe" off the street.

    March 8, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  3. rtbrno65

    If people in that district really want that dope to represent them in congress, then they certainly have every right to send him there. The House was conceived to be the institution where anyone could serve regardless of what their line of work is. He's already evading questions and refusing to own up to past statements, so he appears to have morphed into a politician already. Sarah Palin and now this guy, John McCain must be so proud.

    March 8, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  4. Get real

    "I'm allowed to have my opinions as an American but it seems the left has become very intolerant when you have an opinion other than what they state."

    I suppose that's the reason CNN usually does not post my comments.

    Joe is correct. Further more I would take a good home-maker over most of the candidates who are running for office. At least we could work toward a balanced budget while cleaning the house!

    March 8, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  5. ksmary

    I do not believe we need any more people who use derogatory terms about fellow Americans , in any office, from local school board to President of the U.S. People who denegrate anyone need not apply for a tax paid job.

    March 8, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  6. Steve, New York City

    Exactly what are Joe the Plumber's qualifications to hold any political office?

    The fact that a staggeringly stupid person like him got any votes, probably reflects the dire state of affairs of the US' education system (many people understand hunting, fishing, other outdoor recreation and the new testament – but that's about it).

    March 8, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  7. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Well, he'd certainly reperesent the typical, average, dumb, intolerant, close-minded republican voters

    March 8, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    I hope he is aware of his shortcomings as a candidate, as well. Simply stating that your citizenship is enough, and that you waited until middle age to develop a politcal awareness is indicative of someone who was at best distinterested, and worst an naked opportunist. I hope he is serious about this, and this not another attempt to market himself for a another pay-day down the road.

    March 8, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    When this man, Sam, tried to get up in the Obama's face he provided the rest of us with a textbook example of who the people are that vote against their own best interests and why. They're just simply ignorant of the actual facts, and will choose to believe in something that will fit their vision of some "better" future for themselves.

    Samuel had complained to Obama over how Obama's tax plan would raise his taxes on his business. Wrong. Obama's tax plan was aiming to cut taxes on businesses of the size Samuel had cited. Wrong. Samuel didn't even own a business, so his complaint about being negatively impacted went beyond being described as false. Wrong. Samuel's taxes would have gone down under Obama's tax proposals, and Samuel knew it. Samuel wanted to launch into a false argument over small business taxes based upon Samuel's misinformed set of facts and assumptions.

    In other words, people vote against their best financial interests because they place a higher importance on social issues.

    March 8, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  10. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Hey Joe, you are just a moron. Go back to fixing toilets.

    March 8, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  11. Durundal

    You got to be kidding me, his reasons for running is that he currently is a sound bite, and is tired of other people listening to sound bites (but not his). How about someone who actually understands that huge disconnect between how people think the world works and how it really know the people who specialize in policy, finance, economics.... This guy is yet another yokel local taking advantage of the mass lunacy that has invaded these times

    March 8, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  12. LD

    So you can consistenly say derogatory statements and when you are questioned about them, you claim you should not have to defend them and you should not be asked about them...then you attack the person asking the question...then you do the favorite right wing blocking tactic...BLAME THE MEDIA!!!!! Yes, he has hung out with Palin and learn the game quite well. This guy is a qualified for office as Palin a matter of fact, is he even a qualified (licensed) plummer yet?

    March 8, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  13. Tom

    I completely agree with him. He is qualified to run. That beign said I don't think he is a very good choice.

    March 8, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  14. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Hey Joe, you are unqualified becuase you are just plain dumb and out-of-touch with reality. People like you are too stupid to realize that elitists like Romney would keep you in chains fixing toilets at their mansions. Would you let your kids clean toilets at school instead of concentrating on an education like Gingrich proposes? Yeah, you probably would.

    March 8, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  15. Mikey

    Wow! He's really been going to school on the Palin/Gingrich school of political rhetoric. Let's see if I get this:

    If you ask me question I don't like, it's either a gotcha question or you're an elite media type.
    If you ask about my intolerant views, I will try to turn it around by calling those who don't like my intolerance of being intolerant of my intolerance.
    I will dodge questions by calling them silly, irrelevant, or just go into totally unrelated talking points.
    Being an American and having strong opinions are the only qualifications for holding office (the same as having two arms, two legs, and liking sports is qualification enough for the Dallas Cowboys to make me their starting quarterback).

    It is hard to believe this idiot is getting his second 15 minutes. He is a complete know nothing fake, who is not named Joe and is not actually a licensed plumber. He should call himself "Sam the Imposter". Another fine cholce by GOP primary voters, like Sharon Angle and whoever the Delaware "I'm not a witch" person was.

    March 8, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  16. Squigman

    He can tie his shoes, and wave bye-bye. What more is needed to be a republican?

    March 8, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  17. steven

    Kaptur will make toast of this guy...we need folks with intelligence in the congress not some fool that has handlers telling him how to conduct himself...which would be the case if he was ever to get in the congrees...he'd be just another tool to be used just like the wrench is to a real plumber...

    March 8, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. DaveinSC

    The third thing that qualifies him is that he knew how to read long before Sarah Palin did.

    March 8, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  19. Guest

    GOP's true colors show through that someone who has admitted to not paying his taxes can get elected.

    March 8, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  20. Jim

    So he's not qualified to be a plumber, or a US Senator/Congressman. Sounds like the perfect Tea-Party candidate. One question. Can he read? Because if he can, he's not the right guy for the Tea Party.

    March 8, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  21. Steve

    Ohio can have him. He's a border-line sociopath. He looked into the faces of Obama and McCain and told them lies – and kept telling them to the press until they got wise to him. Turns out, he was just a plumber's assistant who 'may have' had a short conversation with his boss about going into business together – and that was his foray into politics. He's a good liar, I will give him that.

    March 8, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. Johnson


    March 8, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  23. David in Houston

    Has Ohio found the female version of Sarah Palin?

    You betcha!

    March 8, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  24. WireweirdinSF

    In the meantime, the jobless rate rises, the stock market wipes out more of our 401(k) savings, while Obama steals from Social Security to provide more money for the dopers, the welfare frauds and corrupt union bosses and Axelrod appears on Mahar after degrading, demeaning and diminishing Limbaugh for saying something much less demeaning and degrading about a woman than Mahar did. Are the stories about the recovery just hype by the liberally biased media to pump up their democrat liberal darling president? Looks like it.

    March 8, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  25. ST

    Unfortunately there is something wrong in GOP nowadays. Joe the Plumber (even the name tells all) is not qualified at all to go to congress. No wonder their approval ratings is almost null. No wonder we hear them saying "a win is a win" regardless how small it is and how it has been acquired. Really!!!

    March 8, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
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