McCain opens taps on Joe the Plumber
In Concord, he invokes the iconic working man nearly a dozen times
To 7,000 in Concord, John McCain said, 'The national media has written us off. Sen. Obama is measuring the drapes. ... My friends, we've got them just where we want them.'
Jim Morrill, Staff Writer
CONCORD - Alan Perez, a small-business owner hoisting a sign that read, "Fight for Joe the Plumber," was just the kind of voter Republican John McCain was looking for at Saturday's rally.
"I kind of see myself as a Joe the Plumber-kind of guy," Perez said. "These signs represent a lot of people."
Ever since last week's presidential debate thrust him into the headlines, Joe the Plumber -- Joe Wurzelbacher of Ohio -- has become a touchstone for McCain.
"The real winner this week was Joe the Plumber," he told about 7,000 enthusiastic supporters at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center. "Joe won, because he's the only person to get a real answer out of Sen. Obama about his plans for our country. Congratulations, Joe."
McCain's rally was his second this week in North Carolina, a state no Democratic presidential candidate has carried since 1976. Polls of N.C. voters show him running virtually even with Democrat Barack Obama. Today, Obama will make his fourth visit to the state since late September with a rally in Fayetteville.
Although Obama is heavily outspending McCain on TV ads in North Carolina, Republicans have been flooding homes with automated phone calls and mailers claiming, among other things, that Obama has "close ties" to William Ayers, a 1960s radical.
In Concord, McCain delivered a 30-minute speech interrupted by chants of "U-S-A, U-S-A!" and a roar at every mention of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. He pledged to rein in spending, explore new energy sources and help troubled homeowners by buying up bad mortgages.
He invoked Joe the Plumber nearly a dozen times.
Wurzelbacher, an aspiring small-business owner, had asked Obama on a campaign stop this month whether his tax plan would hurt him. Obama gave a detailed explanation of his proposal and said by giving tax breaks to more people, it would help small business.
"Right now, everybody's so pinched ... ," Obama told him. "And I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
McCain has pounced. His campaign passed out posters that read, "I'm Joe the Plumber" and "Let Joe keep his dough."
"We learned that Sen. Obama's economic goal is, as he told Joe, is, to quote, 'spread the wealth around,' " McCain said. "He believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs and opportunities for all Americans. ...
"America didn't become the greatest nation on Earth by giving our money to the government to 'spread the wealth around' ... [W]e believe in spreading opportunity."