Local Politics

N.C. McCain supporters say they're with Joe

Posted October 26, 2008 11:54 a.m. EDT

— Republicans brandishing plungers on a march in downtown Raleigh Saturday sought to dramatize what has become a central thematic element of the McCain campaign in the last days before the Nov. 4 election.

John McCain's campaign has played up the answer his Democratic rival, Barack Obama – that he would "spread the wealth around" as president – gave to a tax-policy question from Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher.

While McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, have repeatedly hit on the theme in recent speeches on the campaign trail, campaign officials have sought ways to present it in North Carolina.

On Saturday, McCain supporters marched from the State Capitol to campaign headquarters on Hillsborough Street. Marchers carried plungers and signs saying "Don't take Joe's $$$."

McCain spoke to the supporters via a teleconference call in the Hillsborough Street headquarters. The candidate said the crowds at his rallies are getting more and more energized.

Wurzelbacher has turned out to be an imperfect messenger – he is not a licensed plumber and owes $1,200 in back taxes. Obama has repeatedly countered that he would lower taxes for most wage-earners and argued that McCain's tax plan favors wealthy corporations.

But McCain aides believe that Obama's comment exposed himself as an inveterate tax raiser and called into question his oft-stated goal of reducing taxes on families and businesses making less than $250,000 a year.

On Sunday, the campaign on Sunday released the names of more than 75 small-business owners who have agreed to be known as "North Carolina's own 'Joe the Plumbers.'"

Freelance translator Sarah Allen, of Garner, said she returned after living in Germany for five years to take advantage of the "entreprenurial spirit" in the U.S.

"My problem with Senator Obama's plan to spread the wealth is that it no longer encourages people to work hard to earn things for themselves, " Allen said in a release.

Suzanne Germann said that Obama's policy would create "extra taxes" that would cut the funds her Wake Forest business uses to help special-needs children and their families.

"Our company makes good money, but we put a lot of it back into training our therapists, keeping up with the center and donating services and items to families who struggle to make ends meet," Germann said a release.

Obama took on the metaphor of "Joe the Plumber" directly while campaigning in Virginia late last week.

"Let's be clear who John McCain is fighting for. He is not fighting for Joe the Plumber. He's fighting for Joe the Hedge Fund Manager," Obama said. "If you make less than a quarter of a million dollars a year – which includes 98 percent of small-business owners – you won't see your taxes increase one single dime."