Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, the nickname Republican John McCain bestowed on him during Wednesday’s presidential debate, said he works for a small plumbing company that does residential work. Because he works for someone else, he doesn’t need a license, he said.
But the county Wurzelbacher and his employer live in, Lucas County, requires plumbers to have licenses. Neither Wurzelbacher nor his employer are licensed there, said Cheryl Schimming of Lucas County Building Regulations, which handles plumber licenses in parts of the county outside Toledo.
Wurzelbacher, who voted in the Republican primary and indicated he backed McCain, was cited by the GOP presidential candidate as an example of someone who wants to buy a plumbing business but would be hurt by Democrat Barack Obama’s tax plans. Wurzelbacher said he was surprised that his name was mentioned so many other times.
“That bothered me. I wished that they had talked more about issues that are important to Americans,” he told reporters gathered outside his home.
Wurzelbacher, 34, said he doesn’t have a good plan put together on how he would buy Newell Plumbing and Heating in nearby Toledo.
He said the business consists of owner Al Newell and him. Wurzelbacher said he’s worked there for six years and that the two have talked about his taking it over at some point.
“There’s a lot I’ve got to learn,” he said.
Wurzelbacher said he started his day with an early morning workout and came back to his suburban Toledo home to do live interviews with TV networks.
Reporters camped out by his house overnight and by midmorning there were 21 people on his driveway surrounding him, holding cameras and notebooks.
Wurzelbacher said he’s feeling overwhelmed.
“I’m kind of like Britney Spears having a headache. Everybody wants to know about it,” he joked.
In Toledo on Sunday, Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was preparing to buy the plumbing company, which earns more than $250,000 a year, and said: “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?”
Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.
Wurzelbacher said Obama’s tax plan wouldn’t affect him right now, because he doesn’t make $250,000. “But I hope someday I’ll make that,” he said.
“If you believed (Obama), I’d be receiving his tax cuts,” Wurzelbacher said. “But I don’t look at it that way. He’d still be hurting others.”
As he leaned against the Dodge Durango SUV parked in his driveway Thursday morning, Wurzelbacher indicated to reporters who crowded around that he was a conservative, a fan of the military and McCain. He said meeting McCain would be an honor but said he hadn’t been contacted by the Republican campaign.
Still, the plumber wouldn’t say who he was voting for and brushed off a question about whether he could influence the election or other voters.
“I don’t have a lot of pull. It’s not like I’m Matt Damon,” Wurzelbacher said.
“I just hope I’m not making too much of a fool of myself,” he added.