WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Barack Obama and John McCain may have turned him into the most famous small-business owner in America, but Joe the Plumber isn’t about to return the favor with an endorsement.
The morning after he emerged as the unexpected star of Wednesday night’s presidential debate, Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, declined to say who he will vote for in the November 4 election.
“It’s a personal decision, and myself and the button I push will know the answer,” the 34-year-old plumber and single father said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.
Later outside his home he told a crowd of reporters “I want the American people to vote for who they want to vote for,” and in an informed way.
He also said he was proud of what the U.S. military has accomplished in Iraq, feels his views are shared by many middle class working people he knows, is tired of people criticizing the United States and feels that the U.S. Social Security program is a “joke.”
Wurzelbacher came to prominence last week when he asked Obama about his tax plan during a campaign stop, which led to an appearance on a Fox News talk show and an invitation to a McCain rally.
Wurzelbacher said the sudden attention hasn’t yet translated into increased business.
“I hope I have a lot of jobs today. Yesterday I worked on a water main break for a gas station and that’s why I didn’t give any interviews. I was muddy and soaking wet,” he said.
Obama and McCain repeatedly invoked Wurzelbacher in their final debate as they sought to appeal to average Americans. McCain, a Republican, said Obama’s plan to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year would hurt small-business owners like Wurzelbacher.
Obama, a Democrat, said he would make it easier for Wurzelbacher to provide health insurance for his employees.
Wurzelbacher told ABC he’s “not even close” to earning $250,000, but worried that Obama would increase taxes for those making less.
In a video interview with the Toledo Blade newspaper after the debate, Wurzelbacher described himself as a man of modest means.
“You see my house. I don’t have a lot of bells and whistles in here, really. My truck’s a couple of years old and I‘m going to have it for the next 10 years, probably. So I don’t see him (Obama) helping me out.”
He said he wasn’t swayed by Obama’s health-care pitch, either, describing it as “just one more step toward socialism.”
Wurzelbacher said he was pleased with McCain’s performance. “McCain came across with some solid points, and I was real happy about that,” he said.
Editing by Philip Barbara