Joe the Absentee leaves McCain fumbling in Ohio
Agence France-Presse
Published: Thursday October 30, 2008

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He's become a mascot of John McCain's attempts to paint Barack Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal determined to hit ordinary working class Americans in the pocket.

But on Thursday "Joe the Plumber" became "Joe the Absentee."

Addressing a rally in the western Ohio of Defiance, Republican candidate McCain recalled how Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher had quizzed Obama over his tax plans and attempted to introduce him to the crowd.

Yet when Wurzelbacher was asked to step forward he was nowhere to be seen.

"Joe's with us today. Joe, where are you? Where is Joe?" McCain asked, only to be greeted by an awkward silence. "Is Joe with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today."

McCain swiftly brushed off the moment however. "Well, you're all Joe the Plumbers!" McCain said. "So all of you stand up!"

McCain campaign staff said Wurzelbacher would hit the trail at an event in Ohio later Thursday.

McCain rolls out 'Joe the Plumber' on campaign stop

Republican John McCain campaigned alongside Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher here Thursday as he attempted to woo voters in the pivotal battleground of Ohio.

McCain appeared alongside Wurzelbacher in an informal rally at a town square gazebo in this midwestern town as part of a two-day bus tour of Ohio, a state he almost certainly must win to claim the White House.

Wurzelbacher was adopted as the de facto mascot of McCain's campaign after he quizzed Barack Obama over his tax plan, claiming the Democrat's policies would leave him worse off if he tried to buy his own business.

McCain has used the burly shaven-headed Wurzelbacher to support his claims that Obama is a tax-and-spend liberal determined to hit ordinary working class Americans in the pocket.

In front of cheering crowds, Wurzelbacher, who had failed to show at an earlier rally Thursday, leaving McCain redfaced, the plumber urged voters to "get informed."

"I didn't prepare anything, but one thing I did say is just get out and get informed, really know what you're talking about when you're talking about it," Wurzelbacher said.

"Don't take everyone's opinions, I get my own opinions by research, get involved in the government, that way we can hold our politicians accountable and take back our government."

This video is from CNN's Situation Room, broadcast October 30, 2008.

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