John The Candidate, Joe The Plumber

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain knows that Ohio is critical to winning Tuesday's presidential election. But with four days to go, McCain won't have time to enjoy the fall foliage as he makes a two-day bus tour through the Buckeye State. Joe Wurzelbacher of Ohio, known as Joe the Plumber, made some appearances with McCain Thursday.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

John McCain sees Ohio as such an important battleground that he's taking a two-day bus tour of the state. It's a state that President Bush nearly won four years ago, and that McCain very much needs to win this time around. And so on the first day of his Ohio tour, John McCain got some help from Ohio's most famous sanitary engineer. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: He's been talked about for weeks and yesterday, Joe the Plumber appeared alongside his political patron John McCain for the first time. Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher was nowhere to be seen when McCain first introduced him in Defiance, Ohio early yesterday. But he later showed up at a campaign event in Sandusky. And by the time the pair reached Mineral, Ohio for a rally last night, Joe the Plumber had his own cheering section.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

CROWD: Joe the Plumber! Joe the Plumber!

HORSLEY: McCain made Wurzelbacher famous during the third presidential debate and he's been repeating the story ever since - of how the would-be-owner of a small plumbing company questioned Barack Obama over his tax plan. Thrust into the spotlight, Wurzelbacher admitted he is not much of a public speaker. He modestly encouraged McCain supporters to ask questions for themselves.

Mr. JOE WURZELBACHER (Plumber): Don't listen to talk show hosts, don't sit down and listen to the papers, I mean, get out there, get the information, learn it - you know the facts are out there. Once you find out the facts, they become quite obvious.

HORSLEY: One fact Wurzelbacher didn't mention is that he would almost certainly qualify for a tax cut under Obama's plan. Obama has promised not to raise taxes on families or small businesses making less than a quarter million dollars a year. Even so, Wurzelbacher says he's voting Republican.

Mr. WURZELBACHER: Get out, vote, and as far as my vote, it's going to be for a real American, John McCain.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

HORSLEY: McCain was touting his own plans for tax cuts as the antidote to the economic slowdown.

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Presidential Candidate): It's tough times for the people especially in the state of Ohio. We know about manufacturing jobs. My friends, we have got to get this economy out of the ditch and we've got to create millions of jobs in America. We can do that.

HORSLEY: In addition to tax cuts, McCain's economic recovery plan includes reduced government spending and expanded offshore oil drilling. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Youngstown, Ohio.

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