'Joe the Plumber' Is Dead at 49

Joe Wurzelbacher famously questioned Barack Obama on campaign trail in 2008
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2023 1:10 PM CDT
'Joe the Plumber' Is Dead at 49
In this Oct. 12, 2008, file photo, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, talks to plumber Joe Wurzelbacher in Holland, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The man the world came to know as "Joe the Plumber" has died at age 49 from pancreatic cancer, reports Fox News. Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher gained national fame back in 2008 when he questioned then-Sen. Barack Obama on the campaign trail in Toledo, Ohio, about his tax plan, per WTOL11. Wurzelbacher owned a plumbing company at the time, and he asserted that Obama's plan ran counter to the "American dream," while Obama maintained that it would help small businesses. After the exchange, GOP nominee Sen. John McCain dubbed Wurzelbacher "Joe the Plumber" and had Wurzelbacher join him on the campaign trail.

"When I met Joe he was already known by everyone else as 'Joe the Plumber' but he wrote something to me that stood out and showed me who he truly was: 'just Joe,'" widow Katie Wurzelbacher wrote to Fox News Digital. "He was an average, honorable man trying to do great things for the country he loved so deeply after being thrust into the public eye for asking a question." Fox notes that his name came up more than a dozen times during an Obama-McCain debate in 2008. Wurzelbacher ran unsuccessfully for Congress in Ohio in 2012, and eventually returned to plumbing when his political career faded, per the AP. (More Joe the Plumber stories.)

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