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Q&A: the story of 'Joe the Plumber'

The story of 'Joe the Plumber'

How did Samuel Wurzelbacher become "Joe the Plumber" when his name's not Joe and he's not a plumber?

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, then 34, was just another guy who worked at a plumbing company in Holland, Ohio, near Toledo, until the 2008 presidential campaign.

Then, on Oct. 12, three days before the final presidential debate, Democratic candidate Barack Obama came to Wurzelbacher's neighborhood to campaign and talk to residents. Wurzelbacher was playing football with his son in the front yard when the candidate approached. Wurzelbacher got to ask Obama about his tax plan, saying he was about to buy a plumbing company "that makes 250 to 280 thousand a year. Your new tax plan's going to tax me more, isn't it?"

Obama's answer was that Wurzelbacher would be taxed at a slightly higher rate for earnings over $250,000, then added this: "It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance at success, too. ... My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. If you've got a plumbing business, you're gonna be better off [...] if you've got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody's so pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Conservatives and Republican presidential nominee John McCain jumped on the statement as proof of Obama's socialist tendencies and interest in redistributing wealth. At the Oct. 15 debate, McCain made several references to "Joe the Plumber," even though Wurzelbacher wasn't licensed to be a plumber in Ohio, and Wurzelbacher quickly became a celebrity.

Later he wrote a book, Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream, in which he criticized McCain and called him the "lesser of two evils," and began giving speeches to conservative groups. He decided to run for Congress as a Republican and in March he narrowly beat Steve Kraus for the 9th congressional district. In November he faces U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who thumped longtime Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primary. The district, which snakes along Lake Erie for more than 100 miles, from Cleveland to Toledo, skews heavily Democratic.

No word on Excedrin return

Excedrin was removed from store shelves earlier this year. When will it be back?

Novartis, which makes Excedrin, has not updated its statement from earlier this year that said the company would resume production by "midyear," according to the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star. The Novartis plant is near Lincoln. In January, Novartis voluntarily recalled bottles of Excedrin, Bufferin, Gas-X Prevention and NoDoz with certain expiration dates because of the possibility of stray pills from other medicines and chipped or broken pills. You can call Novartis toll-free at 1-888-477-2403 with questions.

Q&A: the story of 'Joe the Plumber' 05/07/12 [Last modified: Monday, May 7, 2012 5:40pm]
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