A few minutes with Joe the Plumber
February 13, 2010 147 Comments
Joe the Plumber (aka Samuel J.Wurzelbacher) headlined state Representative Sam Rohrer’s Mobilize for Liberty event in Harrisburg today, giving the Berks County lawmaker his support a few hours after Rohrer mustered just a dozen votes in the State Republican Committee’s gubernatorial endorsement meeting.
Joe’s endorsement is apparently quite the coup. He says more than 200 politicians have asked for support this year, but so far, he’s only backed five. “I need to talk to candidates before I endorse,” he told me afterwards, explaining that his bar is pretty high. “We have a series of conversations – 20 to 30 minute conversations – and I grill them. I ask them questions about energy, education – make sure they’re straight.” Wurzelbacher says he also vets candidates online.
So why Rohrer? He says they share many of the same values – the Second Amendment, states’ independence, “integrity, honesty.” Plus, “Sam is really favored amongst the tea parties. It takes a lot for them to get behind an individual.”
Wurzelbacher touched on several different points during his speech, and many of them were surprising. He said he doesn’t support Sarah Palin anymore. Why? Because she’s backing John McCain’s re-election effort. “John McCain is no public servant,” he told the room, calling the 2008 Republican nominee a career politician.
I pointed out he’d just be plain old Sam Wurzelbacher of Ohio — Joe the Plumber wouldn’t exist — without McCain. His response was blunt. “I don’t owe him s—. He really screwed my life up, is how I look at it.”
Wurzelbacher said, “McCain was trying to use me. I happened to be the face of middle Americans. It was a ploy.”
So why’s he still milking the Joe the Plumber image, appearing at conservative events across the country? Wurzelbacher says it’s his duty to take advantage of the platform he’s been given. He wants to talk up the issues he cares about, and encourage the grassroots tea party movement.
Wurzelbacher also told the room to lay off the extreme personal attacks on President Obama. He said people who question whether Obama was born in the United States or compare him to Hitler “belittle and set back” the conservative movement. “The birthers, the truthers — if people are trying to bunch them [with tea partiers], that would kill us. That just pushes away Democrats and independents who might come out for our cause otherwise.” He said he actually likes Obama, in some ways. “I think his ideology is un-American, but he’s one of the more honest politicians. At least he told us what he wanted to do.”