Dana Bash | BIO
CNN Political Correspondent
During my regular morning call to McCain headquarters to see what’s up for the day, an aide told me we would finally see Joe Wurzelbacher – Joe the Plumber – appear with John McCain.
McCain’s entire closing theme is based on Wurzelbacher’s curbside encounter with Barack Obama over taxes. But Joe’s never been to a McCain rally.
About halfway through McCain’s first speech in Defiance, Ohio, however, I realized Joe wasn’t there. I called the aide I had spoken with in the morning, who told me that in fact Joe wasn’t going to be there after all.
Unfortunately, no one told the candidate.
As I was hanging up the phone, McCain started to yell for Joe, who he thinks is in the crowd.
“Joe’s with us today. Joe, where are you?” McCain called the into the crowd, “Where’s Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today (pause) All right, well, you’re all Joe the plumber, so all of you stand up and say – I thank you.”
It was an awkward moment.
McCain aides called it a “miscommunication,” but once I got on the bus I called Wurzelbacher myself and asked him what really happened.
He told me that he had hoped to come to the morning rally, but that no one from McCain’s campaign ever called him back to confirm,
He said he had heard McCain yelled for him and he wasn’t there, and Joe was “not happy about it.”
It turns out, as soon as camp McCain realized the error, they sent a car for Wurzelbacher and raced him to hook up with McCain’s bus caravan, which was making its way across Ohio.
Shortly after 2pm in a sunny, picturesque town square in Sandusky, Ohio, McCain was speaking to a crowd under a Gazebo and called Joe’s name.
This time, he answered.
He jumped on the stage, and the crowd went wild.
“All right guys, I didn’t prepare anything. The only thing I’ve been saying is just to get out and get informed. I mean really know what you’re talking about when you’re talking about it,” Wurzelbacher bellowed.
“Don’t take everyone’s opinions. I came to my own opinions by research. Get involved in the government. That way we can hold our politicians accountable and take back out government. It’s all ours.”
The only problem is that McCain started to speak before those of us in the press traveling with him got in...
and many of my colleagues in TV and print missed the joe moment.
Afterwards Joe worked the ropeline, shaking hands and signing autographs for voters there to see McCain.
And now Joe is doing something those of use in McCain’s traveling press corps haven’t been allowed to in months.
He’s riding the Straight Talk Express…as we followed behind.
By the next stop in Elyrie, Ohio, camp McCain seemed to have finally worked out the kinks. Joe finally, explicitly endorsed McCain.
"Vote for a real American," he told the cheering crowd, "John McCain."
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with