Joe the plumber.

 

During tonight’s debate the candidates mentioned Joe by
name more than a dozen times throughout the course of the 90-minute
debate.

Actually, one count had it at 15 mentions. And it seemed like more.
Over and over, Joe became the Average American who both candidates
addressed. 

Sen. McCain: “Joe, I want to tell you, I’ll not only
help you buy that business that you worked your whole life for and be
able – and I’ll keep your taxes low and I’ll provide available and
affordable health care for you and your employees.”

Sen. Obama: “Now, the conversation I had with Joe the plumber, what
I essentially said to him was, ‘Five years ago, when you were in a
position to buy your business, you needed a tax cut then, and what I
want to do is to make sure that the plumber, the nurse, the
firefighter, the teacher, the young entrepreneur who doesn’t yet have
money, I want to give them a tax break now.”

By the middle of the debate, I’m thinking Joe is soon going to be a
pop culture figure. He’ll no doubt wind up on TV news talk shows, maybe
the comedy shows. But he’s just an average….Joe. He first showed up yesterday on the campaign trail, as a citizen with a question.

Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, might be the most
famous plumber in the country after confronting the Democrat earlier
this week when Obama was canvassing his neighborhood. Wurzelbacher, who
is about to purchase a small business that nets more than $250,000/year
– the magic number at which Obama will increase taxes – asked Obama why
after working hard for so many years he should be taxed.

Obama and Wurzelbacher spoke for about six minutes – in front of
press – about Obama’s tax plan, after which Obama noted the
conversation was “good practice” for his debate with McCain.

That got picked up quickly by some media. Especially Obama’s answer
that he didn’t want to punish Joe’s success, but did want to “spread
the wealth around”. So it didn’t take long for McCain to bring him up
as a citizen targeted for income distribution.

The buzz is now spreading.

But in post-debate analysis, one anchor said field producers had
already reached Joe, and he said he still believes Obama is going to
raise his taxes. But he refused to disclose who would get his vote.

Barack Obama answers a question from plumber Joe Wurzelbacher in Holland, Ohio, last Sunday.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet