October 30th, 2008
04:58 PM ET

Joe the Plumber – A No Show!

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,

Bigger ooops.

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."

Filed under: Dana Bash • Joe the Plumber • John McCain • Raw Politics
soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. DannyCali

    Why John McSame and his VP keep sing same old song every day?
    Anderson......please ask them do their any new IDEA to talk, because I'm so sick to listening only same old song about JOE no show.

    October 31, 2008 at 5:29 am |
  2. Frederique

    And we're supposed to vote for McCain because he knows how to "fix" things? Give me a break!!!
    Wanting to be president very very very badly is not enough. McCain and his team have been incompetent from the start– choosing Sarah Palin to catch Hilary voters only reminded Americans (republican and democrats) how simplistic some republicans can be!!! The American people are sick of being treated like idiots. Haven't the McCain people noticed? Smart republicans will vote for Obama. Well done McCain!

    October 31, 2008 at 4:57 am |
  3. AJ

    Mr. Wurzelbacher aka "Joe The Plummer" is a fabrication of a campaign that has struggled to work with a strategy and tactical plan of genuine sense of purpose for the American people.
    I have the utmost respect for Senator McCain as a true American hero, but as we are all seeing as his campaign winds down in the final days of this election, Senator Barack Obama clearly appears to be the better presidential "fitting".

    October 31, 2008 at 4:47 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    If this guy is even remotely a symbol of the American dream, then god help us all. If he paid his taxes we would all be better off and if he cannot pay his current Republican taxes. How on gods earth in a credit crunch can even remotely hope to buy the business, to do which he would have to be a qualified plumber any way.
    Bad Judgment from McCain, think so, and even more so when he does not turn up as expected.
    With those kinds of irresponsibility, he will never achieve his American dream unless he votes for receiveng some of Obamas wealth spreading being given to him.
    By the way, did McCain not realise that most Americans think plumbers are not reliable, and charge too much!!

    October 31, 2008 at 4:35 am |
  5. ralph

    The campaign certainly has had it's problems.Like a gospel singer sing a wonderful religious song on the stage and the audience all waving signs that say they want Country First.

    October 31, 2008 at 4:34 am |
  6. Ruan Niemann

    i just have a question, why would anybody want an autograph from a guy like Joe the Plumber?

    what would you do with it? would you put it up on your mantlepiece and stare at it?
    would you try and sell it on E-bay? what for? who would pay for it?

    why do we feed into the cult of instant celebrity like this?

    what has Joe the Plumber ever done to deserve our attention, except pretend to be something he is not?

    i'm sorry i just dont get it.

    October 31, 2008 at 3:33 am |
  7. Fay

    A want a be plumber didn't show for the want a be pres, looking for the want a be vice pres. What a joke. You McCain people, don't you read Fact Check and find out just how many lies the Republicans are telling? Get educated on the facts and get past color and vote for change.

    October 31, 2008 at 3:25 am |
  8. Carolyn Bailey

    Joe and McCain both are jokes. McCain's judgement is questionable. Just like he met Palin 2 times before making her his running mate. All he did was see a tape of Obama answering Joe the plumber's question ( who this guy is not), and he has him join him on his campaign stumps. What a guy!! No wonder he's losing. I guess this is what we have to look forward to if he get in the White House, erratic and wreckless behavior. What a joke. All I can do is keep praying to God, that it don't happen.

    October 31, 2008 at 3:02 am |
  9. laura

    joe the plumber and sarah palin as star players of the mccain campaign. the mccain campaign has turned republicans into the party of idiots. who in their right minds would want to belong to a party led by such people?

    October 31, 2008 at 2:42 am |
  10. Alex (Aliso Viejo, Ca)

    With the purest intentions, I do hope Sen McCain and Gov Palin enlist Joe the 'pseudo" plumber to be part of their campaign and be placed on their payroll. The man as it is has gotten a lot of media exposure via RNC campaign. I can easily mistake him to be their Mascot or model. A talent fee should be in order. Are they paying for your travel expenses by any chance??? What do you think, Joe???

    October 31, 2008 at 2:10 am |
  11. Jennifer G

    I think that McCain might want to ask Americans “were is Obama getting all his pledges“? Supposedly from Donations that are 200.00 and less is he really trying to tell us that, that many people gave him over 100 million dollars in donations or is it foreign countries possible terrorist with online donations that want to see him in office

    Jennifer G

    October 31, 2008 at 2:05 am |
  12. Trevor Marwood

    The difference is they are talking to the media day after day about complicated issues and plans to help all americans Unlike Mr 994 out of class of 998 and the moronic moosehunter who can only talk to those with a simaler IQ of zero.I was under the impression Joe the Lie had been well and truly outed,But maybe the senile and the stupid have not realised that yet !!

    October 31, 2008 at 1:49 am |
  13. Mark

    I'm with Cindy! I have a hard time respecting or trusting Obama after he kicked his campaign off on a lie-referring to his renegged upon agreement to use public financing. This campaign has been fully orchestrated and tilted by the overwhelming media use on Obama's side. The public wants answers to difficult questions but we only get sound bytes. it seems for 600 million dollars he would have time to get into an indepth detailed account of his plans; but it just never comes... could it be the man has no plan past the rhetoric??

    October 31, 2008 at 1:49 am |
  14. nelson

    Gov. Palin winked at her father in the audience of the debate {GOOD FOR HER}, what magazines she reads {SO WHAT}, the cost of her clothes { YOU REALLY DON'T CARE}, she goes hunting, something her father taught her {MANY OF YOU ONLY WISH YOUR FATHERS HAD DONE SOMETHING WITH YOU}, her folksy talking style{AN AMERICAN TALKING TO THE EVERY DAY AMERICANS}, but she's also the Governer of the state of Alaska, who's accomplished something in her state that many Americans believe that her courage and spirit is remarkable, An American who believed in making a change for the better and has done so, that deep down in each and every one of us at the grass roots level can admire her for her strength,determination, and at this moment in time it took a women to show that it can be done. And me, just a Ret. Marine of 20 yrs.

    October 31, 2008 at 1:31 am |
  15. Aubrey Hill

    He can't even show up to work as a "real plumber" of course he didn't show up to the rally. I own a small business and make well over $250k a year. I am insulted to think that John McCain would use this non-plumber, no tax paying, non-business owner as a spokesperson for his campaign I am not voting Republican this year around I am voting for change!

    October 31, 2008 at 1:28 am |
  16. Ken

    "Joe the Plumber" will live in infamy as one of the worst "political" frauds in the history of the United States of America.Joe needs to climb back into his cesspool and build a permanent shack to live in. He won't smell any different.

    Joe has an internationally demonstrated I. Q. of less than 60. (Hint:: Joe, you can look up the meaning of "I. Q."on Google, assuming you can spell I.Q.).

    Joe (if that's you're real name), do the world a favor. Climb back into your world of total ignorance and let people with a modicum of intelligence make suggestions on how to make this world a better place to live.

    October 31, 2008 at 1:25 am |
  17. MsCherokee

    Joe don't know who he is he gave a fake name to Obama, he owe taxes, and he not qualified to be a plumber. If I was this guy I wouldn't throw stones while living in a glass house, the media has a way of getting all in your KOOL-AID, they'll tell you what flavor it is, and if it sweet or not. Stupid Joe real stupid, now the IRS want their money, and they know where to find you. Joe here's a hint stop going to McCain rallies the IRS is there looking for you.

    October 31, 2008 at 1:24 am |
  18. adam

    LOL, dont even try to make up any excuses for this guy because there is NONE! McCain has poor communication and judgemnt. Its funny how the die hard repubs are willing to overlook so many HUGE mistakes mad by McCain and to try to distract from their mishaps by making up stories about obama and the democrats, sad, so sad!!!!!! Senator McCain uses a teleprompter too, but some would like to leave that out of their statements.

    October 31, 2008 at 1:18 am |
  19. Mel

    Can you please stop referring this Joe as a "symbol" of American workers? He doesn't represent me! This Joe "The Plumber" is another Republican stunt, posed as an everyday Joe! I even realized this before some of you journalists found out he has no license as a plumber and his first name is not even Joe! The way he talked in his first interview, he sounded so biased I can't believe you have played his game and keep playing it. I'm so irritated that you keep talking about him as if he is some kind of hero! (a Republican hero maybe) Please stop talking about him! He is no American hero! He is a right-wing dude!

    October 31, 2008 at 1:17 am |
  20. Tom the Social Worker

    "Vote for a real American...". This from someone who does not pay his taxes or obtain a license to practice his trade as an honest contractor would do. Wonder what his sources were for his research -Senator McCain's website and Governor Palin?

    October 31, 2008 at 1:14 am |
  21. Matthew

    There are gaffes, and then there are total trainwrecks. The McCain/Palin campaign would be the latter.

    The media doesn't report little accidents and mishaps. They report tragedies and calamities. The McCain/Palin campaign would be the latter

    October 31, 2008 at 1:06 am |
  22. Mike McGuire

    A Real American ... why doesn't he say what he means, a real white American. He probably hates Obama because his Grandpa kicked a little Nazi ass in Patton's Army .... hey Joe's last name doesn't sound real American ... Hey Joe, let's see your green card ... oh my God your Canadian!

    October 31, 2008 at 12:57 am |
  23. Akangbe

    Look at poor McCain useing Joe the plumber to avoid talikng about his plans that wont work

    October 31, 2008 at 12:48 am |
  24. Sherm in VA

    I feel sorry for the supporters who McCain compared to "Joe the Plumber". If they are "Joe the Plumber", that means they lie about buying a business, lie about their income, lie about being undecided, evade taxes, and lie about being a plumber.

    Don't call me "Joe the Plumber".

    Obama's plans include a middle class tax cut, health insurance for more Americans, and early childhood education. These are the things that will help our country in the long term.

    October 31, 2008 at 12:43 am |
  25. Edna

    'Real American" – there they go again suggesting that people who disagree with the Republican view of things as un-American. I can't believe what I am hearing and seeing during this election. There is so much fear and hate mongering and so many ignorant people in a civilized and powerful nation.

    October 31, 2008 at 12:37 am |
  26. Andrew

    I am very surprised that Joe the plumber is critical of Obama's plan to spread the wealth. Joe the plumber does not strike me as someone who is very wealth, in fact, I understand that he doesnt actually have a plumbing license and has difficultly coming up with the $1200 he owes in back taxes. Yet, he is concerned about Obama spreading his wealth. What wealth may I ask? He should be happy about the concept of spreading wealth, perhaps he himself would benefit. Also, is Joe the plumber even regestered to vote?

    October 31, 2008 at 12:24 am |
  27. johannes

    Became a citizen this week and voted 3 hours later. For the obvious choice.

    October 31, 2008 at 12:21 am |
  28. Alex

    Joe has a habit of no shows....like no plumber's license, doesn't pay his property taxes. This guy is a terrible representative of the people of our nation. Just another example of McCain's inability to make the correct choices in his corner. Chosing Sarah Palin to be VP is like chosing a 1st year intern to perform brain surgery. I expected a far far better showing from McCain during this Presidential campaign.

    October 31, 2008 at 12:14 am |
  29. Brandi-bottom of the boot

    the fact that they sent a car for him and took him with them following the mix up is rather disturbing. im a real american, i take that as a low blow to every american. they really need to stop saying it.

    October 31, 2008 at 12:08 am |
  30. ann oakley

    I don't know why he would wan't this so called plumber who really isn't a plumber, dosen't pay his taxes, or bills, He isn't working that is for sure and he can't show up to help the campamp. I think if I hear that name again I will scream.

    October 30, 2008 at 11:45 pm |
  31. christina gaffney

    joe the plumber isn't doing too bad for himself, though i'd be inclined to remind us who watched from the beginning, obama didn't apprach 'joe' he approached obama for his 15 minutes of fame. mccain further misled us by being the target factor for 'joe' by bringing him up in debate.
    now i ask myself was he a plant from the beginning to confuse us who have heard nothing from the mccain camp except how obama's plans won't work instead of telling us his plans or how they would work?
    all i know so far is 5000.00 dollar tax credit for medical. we already pay weekly insurance and 3000.00 deductible before insurance covers us, plus copays. under mccain's plans we're already worse off not better.
    personally i find being referred to as joe 6 pack quite offensive and joe the plumber didn't improve my opinion. joe tax em might be more fitting .
    christina (not joe's mama} in pennsylvania

    October 30, 2008 at 11:40 pm |
  32. harry

    It's just another example of McCain's campaign going down the drain.

    October 30, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  33. Velna Reid

    Gee, is Joe the plumber going to have a job in the whie house if McCain wins? I am sick to death of Joe the the plumber, but even more so of Sara Palin.

    I am a senior for Obama and will be devasted is he doens't win. I have voted in many elections in my lifetime, but have never been as passionate as I am about this election.

    October 30, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  34. Tino

    Does anyone know if there ids any truth to Joe the Plumber being related to Charles Keating of the Keating 5.

    October 30, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  35. Dennis Deloatch

    Since "Joe the Plumber" is now campaigning with Sen. McClain, I think he and his family are entitled to the $150,000 wardrobe budget also. After looking at his attire today, I think he needs the the new wardrobe worse than Palin.

    October 30, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  36. dwayne

    A real American???? Just because someone doesn't agree with you, makes them unamerican. That "my friend" is the problem. Tell me, exactly where do fake americans live. Joe, you are a joke....stick to plumbing...please!!!

    October 30, 2008 at 10:59 pm |
  37. Ernestine

    We as Americans don't want 4 more years of Republicans pass the buck up and stepping on the middle class,seniors, healthcare,and education. McCain and his crew can't tell people what we need to hear about improving the system that they have destroy ed they would rather try to discredited Obama will a lot of lies and some people would rather listen to these lies so that will have a reason to have for not voting for Obama because he is Black it is that simple. Wake up people if God says so it will happen. People needs to start using their brains and realize Obama is try to reach out to everyone and don't but into that crap McCain is feeding you. Obama is not a Muslin and like Collin Powell said what if he was. McCain is the one who is doing and saying any and everything to try to win!

    October 30, 2008 at 10:59 pm |
  38. LYNN

    So what did I hear on TV...Joe the plumber isn't really a plumber but has an agent looking for jobs for him and he is tax evader, didn't someone check up on him? Was he a plant like the woman who mumbled something about Obama being an
    Arab & she couldn't vote for him.

    October 30, 2008 at 10:58 pm |
  39. JoeThomas

    Well since there is Joe the plumber, Tito the builder, I’ve figured I’ll be JoeThomas the Electrical Engineer, although I still don’t make over $250,000 nor do I think Joe the plumber nor Tito the builder would ever be able to make that much.
    Nevertheless, we as Americans we need to open our eyes and look to the future, Frankly, I don’t care who Obama associated with 40 years ago, nor do I care about McCaine service record, that was all in the past; we can’t change the past nor can anyone, but, this much I know… we all can change the present and make sure our future will not be like the last 8 years.
    It is time we as Americans send a message to both political parties and let them know, that when you failed us…. we will stand together and NOT take it anymore.
    Is Time for a Change,
    It is time for us Americans to be what we were, and what we will be, the Strongest and the most United people in the World.

    October 30, 2008 at 10:53 pm |
  40. Katherine

    Oh, please. This guy is milking his 15 minutes of fame for every nanosecond and the McCain campaign is totally exploiting him for whatever they can get out of it.

    He's not a licensed plumber and there was no way he could even dream about buying the company he worked for. He set out to bait Obama and now he's an RNC celebrity as a result. He's all they have. I say let them have him. They mocked Obama for his celebrity but they aren't above using celebrity themselves.

    McCain doesn't care about American citizens. Campaign first. Country last.

    October 30, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  41. jk

    I dont understand why people get excited when they hear the name "joe the plumber" seriously is it just a big joke on John McCain's part...

    only in America can a plumber be recognized as a politician
    In fact that is what is wrong with our country... the average joe is able to contribute to candidates polices and people go along with what a nobody has to say....where i come from.. you just cant instantly be made a hero, you have to earn it..

    john mccain has the status as being a hero but it doesnt mean he has my vote

    October 30, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  42. George

    If this is any indication of how a McCain administration would run the country, Obama is right. It would be four more years of Bush if not worse!!!

    Can someone please ask Joe the Plumber EXACTLY what does he mean by "Real American." PLEASE PLEASE ask him which citizens are NOT "Real Americans" and what does it take to become a real American in his eyes.

    October 30, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  43. gina, toronto

    wow, his 15-mins is still not done....

    October 30, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  44. Chris Harris

    Joe is not a plumber. At best he's a plumbers helper. So John Mc, get it right, he's Joe the Liar.

    October 30, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  45. Eric French

    "Vote for a real American". Yet another brainwashed hick who somehow believes that Obama's not a "real American". And people wonder why the rest of the first world laughs at us?

    October 30, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  46. NJF

    It will be interesting to see how much Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin care about Joe the Plumber...Wendy the Waitress...Frank the Factory Worker or any other blue collar worker or lower middle class person after Tuesday (win or lose). Joe the Plumber has become a tool...He is a caricature of "conservative values" and I find it quite sad that a candidate for the U.S. Presidency relies so heavily on others (Gov. Palin...Joe) to articulate his values and beleifs.

    October 30, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  47. Mir Kahn

    Vote for a real American? Whats up with that? It's not like Obama is a citizen of Israel or Palestine. Besides, the Pail chick seems more supportive of foreign governments and their interests instead of ours.

    Joe is regurgitating what he hears on conservative, head in the sand, talk radio – that's all he is capable of. Even if he had something prepared, I don't think the McCain Brains would let him say anything.

    October 30, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  48. j stewart

    Must be the blind leading the blind-a presidential candidate who is so out of touch with reality that he has a suppossed plumber who really isn't, who wants to buy a 250k company that that is really a 100k company that he can't afford anyway, who owes back taxes and has just hired a publicist to try and get him a book deal and a country music recording contracty and this is a "real person". God help us to elect a Obama and send the rif raf packing.

    October 30, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  49. Salam

    The battle is over ready McCain should wait for another 4 years maybe

    October 30, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
  50. Jessica

    Is this guy a bigot? "A Real American" what black people are not real Americans? Does that mean I am not a real American either.. because I have a tinge of color???? This Joe the Plunger needs to keep his mouth shut if he can't say something uniting and not dividing!!!

    October 30, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
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