During the last weeks of the campaign, “Joe the Plumber” made a splash as Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) most famous surrogate. “Joe’s the man!” McCain said. Yglesias refers to Joe Wurzelbacher as the campaign’s “most annoying legacy.”
Interviewed on NPR today, however, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) — a former top McCain surrogate and VP contender — criticized how McCain relied on Joe the Plumber as a “symbol” with no sustance behind it. Pawlenty said that simply “throwing out” the “icon” of Joe the Plumber, as McCain did, was “not enough”:
MONTAGNE: Well it, certainly, during this past election, made an attempt to reach out, I would think, to that group, with the now famous character, really, Joe the Plumber. How would you see that happening if the attempt has been made and it didn’t — didn’t really work.
PAWLENTY: Well, I don’t think the attempt was made very well. I think just because you bring up the name Joe the Plumber — while people view that as a symbol — but what does that mean, in terms of what Republicans can do to make my health care more affordable, my — filling up my car more affordable? I think just throwing out a symbol or an icon is not enough.
Sure enough, hours later, in her first press conference since Tuesday’s election, Gov. Sarah Palin enthusiastically brought up Joe the Plumber. “Folks like Joe the Plumber, yes, who spoke for so many,” she said. “People who he was speaking for felt kinda comforted.” Palin then also reminisced about Tito the Builder. Watch it:
While Pawlenty criticized the use of Wurzelbacher today, he enthusiastically referenced Joe the Plumber during the campaign as a means to criticize Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).
When the Obama campaign criticized McCain’s use of Joe the Plumber, Palin responded with anger. “Why the heck are you going after Joe The Plumber? … He wants to be something else. Why is that so wrong?” We await Palin’s condemnation of Pawlenty.