Until Wednesday afternoon, Joe Wurzelbacher, 34, was just a plumber in Toledo, Ohio. He was catapulted into a national star overnight, however, after his name was invoked dozens of times by both Republican candidate John McCain and Democratic rival Barack Obama in their final TV debate.
Several hours after he gained sudden fame, however, Wurzelbacher became a target of the American media and liberal organizations.
Under the title Is Joe the Plumber a plumber? Thats debatable, The Associated Press said he is not a licensed plumber and owes nearly 1,200 U.S. dollars in back taxes.
Tony Herrera of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 50 in Toledo said, Its a shame that this guy presented himself as a plumber. The real Joe the Plumber supports Barack Obama.
Many news outlets quoted a plumber union member as sarcastically saying Wurzelbacher seems worried over paying higher taxes on his annual income of 250,000 dollars if Obama is elected president.
If theres a plumber or pipefitter making more than 250,000 dollars, we want to know where hes working, Herrera said. We dont make that kind of money.
Wurzelbacher engaged in a dispute with Obama over his tax plan at a rally Sunday near his home. He asked Obama, Do you believe in the American dream? My dream is running my own business. But I am worried about high taxes if I earn more than 250,000 dollars. The debate was captured by a TV camera and aired nationwide.
At a campaign rally Thursday, McCain told his supporters, The real winner last night was Joe the Plumber. Joes the man. He won and small businesses won across America, they won, because the American people are not going to let Senator Obama raise their taxes in a tough economy.
To this, Reuters said, Wurzelbacher has become a darling of conservatives for attacking Obamas tax policies
On the controversy over Wurzelbacher, some have criticized the media treatment of him as unfair. Whether he is a licensed plumber has nothing to do with the core of the issue, they said.
In the United States, a large number of plumbers are hired by companies run by licensed plumbers.
Some say that had Wurzelbacher made comments praising the Democrats, the media and unions would not have attacked him, and that he is an ordinary citizen who never asked to be a celebrity.