CBS ‘Early Show’ Looks at ‘The Real Joe the Plumber’

Joe the Plumber, CBS On Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on the role of Joe the Plumber, a.k.a. Joe Wurzelbacher, in the presidential campaign: "The McCain campaign is using Wurzelbacher to say their opponent would raise taxes. Though it turns out, Wurzelbacher himself owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes and his annual tax bill would actually go down under Obama's plan." Glor then added: "Obama mocked the McCain strategy."

At the end of Glor’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked: "Yeah Jeff, we're starting to learn a little bit more about Joe/Steven, the Plumber?" Smith mistakenly referred to Wurzelbacher’s first name being Steven, when in fact it is Samuel, and he corrected himself: "Samuel." Glor responded: "A couple of more things about Joe the Plumber -- Samuel, indeed. He is registered to vote. There were some questions about that. He does not have a plumber's license, though. And it turns out his real first name is Samuel. Joe is his middle name." At that moment, an on screen Graphic appeared with the headline: "The Real Joe the Plumber" and listed the details Glor mentioned. On Thursday, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Wurzelbacher: "...feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." but offered no direct quote of any such comment.

Following Glor’s report, co-host Julie Chen talked to former Bush advisor Dan Bartlett and Democratic strategist Joe Trippi about the campaign and specifically Joe the Plumber: "Joe, do you think that Senator McCain managed to make the notion of Joe the Plumber a game-changer for him?" Trippi tried to portray the focus on Wurzelbacher as a mistake: "You know, it's very dangerous place to go, because the more we've seen in the past, the more people who are worried about the economy and the financial crisis, the more they move traditionally to Democrats anyway and have been moving to Obama. So, to -- so now the fight is on Obama's turf. It's about the economy, it's about the future economic prospects of the nation. That's not necessarily a place that McCain wants to take this." Bartlett countered: "And he doesn't have much of a choice, though. It's on the economy, that's where the Americans people's mind is. There's a little bit of an experience gap here between -- as John McCain will argue, and he's got to take these unprecedented times and turn them to his favor so he doesn't have a choice."

Here is the full transcript of the Glor report:

7:00AM TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: Eighteen days to go and the candidates trade in attacks for laughs.

BARACK OBAMA: Now recently, one of John's top advisers told the Daily News that If we keep talking about the economy, McCain's going to lose. So, tonight, I'd like to talk about the economy.

JOHN MCCAIN: Yes, it's true that this morning, I've dismissed my entire team of senior advisers. All of their positions will now be held by a man named Joe the Plumber.

SMITH: And a Late Show apology in New York.

DAVID LETTERMAN: You called me an hour and a half and said we've got to get right back to Washington, but you didn't go right back to Washington.

JOHN MCCAIN: I screwed up.

7:02AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: But first, election day is now only 2 ½ weeks away. John McCain and Barack Obama are each focusing on swing states but they also found time for a few laughs Thursday night. Early Show national correspondent Jeff Glor is in Miami with that. Good morning, Jeff.

JEFF GLOR: Hey Julie, good morning to you. Yeah, quite a difference at this charity event in New York from the way we're used to seeing these candidates. John McCain will be in Miami today. Barack Obama will be in Florida on Monday. Another one of these states both candidates consider crucial. With the debates over, both campaigns hit the swing states hard by day and softened things up at night.

BARACK OBAMA: Many of you know that I got my name Barack from my father. What you may not know is Barack is actually Swahili for 'that one.'

GLOR: Before both candidates went to an annual roast in New York City, John McCain told David Letterman he was sorry for a recent cancellation.

JOHN MCCAIN: I screwed up.

DAVID LETTERMAN: Well-

MCCAIN: But look at all the conversation I gave you.

DAVID LETTERMAN: Yes.

GLOR: The campaigns are appearing with established celebrities and creating new ones.

MCCAIN: The real winner last night was Joe the Plumber!

GLOR: Including Joe Wurzelbacher, the man who this week confronted Obama and then became the centerpiece of a debate.

WURZELBACHER: They were using me to make a point, so I don't mind it as long as people stop and think.

GLOR: The McCain campaign is using Wurzelbacher to say their opponent would raise taxes. Though it turns out, Wurzelbacher himself owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes and his annual tax bill would actually go down under Obama's plan.

WURZELBACHER: If you believe him, I would be receiving his tax cuts.

GLOR: Obama mocked the McCain strategy.

OBAMA: He's trying to suggest that -- that a plumber is the guy he's fighting for. How many plumbers do you know making a quarter of a million dollars a year?

GLOR: But warned his supporters about over confidence.

OBAMA: And for those who are getting a little cocky, I've got two words for you: New Hampshire.

STUART ROTHENBERG: Everybody knows stories about some candidate who was absolutely positively sure he or she was going to win and at the end of the day, left -- left something on the table.

GLOR: The break-neck pace continues this weekend, Harry, with candidates hitting places like Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, and as we mentioned, Florida will come up on Monday. Harry, back to you in New York.

SMITH: Yeah Jeff, we're starting to learn a little bit more about Joe/Steven, the Plumber?

GLOR: Yes, indeed, Harry.

SMITH: Samuel.

GLOR: A couple of more things about Joe the Plumber -- Samuel, indeed. He is registered to vote. There were some questions about that. He does not have a plumber's license, though. And it turns out his real first name is Samuel. Joe is his middle name. I tell you what, guys, I would not want to be living in his neighborhood right now.

SMITH: With all of the satellite trucks and everything else. Alright, Jeff thanks very much.

GLOR: Yes, indeed. Okay.

SMITH: And Julie, we've got more sound from the Al Smith dinner last night. This is this huge annual event in New York City for Catholic charities. It sold out in one week. They made more than $4 million and the laughs came fast and furious. Take a look at this.

CHEN: Alright.

OBAMA: I feel right at home here because it's often been said that I share the politics of Alfred E. Smith and the ears of Alfred E. Newman. I do love the Waldorf Astoria, though. You know, I hear that from the doorstep you can see all the way to the Russian Tea Room.

MCCAIN: I come here tonight to the Al Smith dinner knowing that I'm the underdog in these final weeks, but if you know where to look, there are signs of hope. There's signs of hope. Even in the most unexpected places, even in this room full of proud Manhattan Democrats. I can't -- I can't shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me. I'm delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary.

CHEN: That was a good line.

SMITH: Sounds like both of them -- yeah, tore the place apart. And Al Smith, of course, was the four-time Governor of New York State, who was the first Catholic to run for president and lost to Herbert Hoover way, way, many years ago. Even before I started covering politics, Julie.

CHEN: That long ago?

SMITH: Yeah.

 

Here is the full transcript of the Chen segment:

7:00AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: Well joining us now, we have two CBS news political consultants, Joe Trippi in Washington and Dan Bartlett in Austin, Texas. Gentlemen, good morning.

DAN BARTLETT: Good morning, Julie.

JOE TRIPPI: Morning.

CHEN: Dan, let me begin with you, Barack Obama is enjoying a very comfortable lead in the polls, especially in swing states. What should John McCain do to try and turn this race around in his favor?

DAN BARTLETT: Well, I think as your coverage showed this morning, I think it's going to be three words, taxes, taxes, taxes. John McCain is going to try to drive home the message in these key battle ground states, particularly ones where there's some economic hardship like Ohio, and say Democrats and Barack Obama are going to raise your taxes and spend more of your money. John McCain, coming from the Republican Party, is going to lower your taxes. Now there'll be a lot of debate back and forth between whose plan is better, but at the end of the day that's always been a closing message for Republicans. And as you saw in the debate, with Joe the Plumber kind of visualizing this and humanizing this debate, that's going to be their message and there's a lot of undecided voters, more undecided voters than typical at this late juncture in a campaign. So they believe that there is small window here where they may be able to swing these undecideds back their way. Some of the tracking polls are starting to narrow just a bit as well, Julie.

CHEN: And Dan, does he have to get out this message through spending money on advertising? Because, you know, Obama is spending so much money on advertising. Is there a way for McCain to try and turn things around without the dollars to fight Obama?

BARTLETT: Well, he really doesn't have that luxury. In some of these cases they're saying that Obama may spend -- outspend him 7-1. So, no, it's going to have to be through earned media opportunities, sharp contrast. Ways to get attention. Whether it be going on David Letterman, or other types of ways, to get his message out and that's something they'll be focused on in the last 18 days.

CHEN: Joe, let me turn to you. At this point can Obama just do no wrong? What does he need to do between now and election day?

JOE TRIPPI: Just don't get your foot off the gas pedal. He's doing great right now. He's campaigning in states like North Carolina, Missouri, Florida. You know, taking it deep into the red states, into states that should have been for the GOP. If he can keep pushing -- putting the pressure on and he's got this amazing get-out-the-vote operation. All these millions of people that he's organized through the internet and through old style organizational door-to-door stuff, it's going to give him a big, a big advantage on election day to get his people out.

CHEN: Joe, do you think that Senator McCain managed to make the notion of Joe the Plumber a game-changer for him?

TRIPPI: You know, it's very dangerous place to go, because the more we've seen in the past, the more people who are worried about the economy and the financial crisis, the more they move traditionally to Democrats anyway and have been moving to Obama. So, to -- so now the fight is on Obama's turf. It's about the economy, it's about the future economic prospects of the nation. That's not necessarily a place that McCain wants to take this.

CHEN: The final seconds, Dan, what do you think?

BARTLETT: Well, that's a very good point. And he doesn't have much of a choice, though. It's on the economy, that's where the Americans people's mind is. There's a little bit of an experience gap here between -- as John McCain will argue, and he's got to take these unprecedented times and turn them to his favor so he doesn't have a choice. He has to play on the economy. But it is an uphill battle from here.

CHEN: Joe Trippi, Dan Bartlett, thank you, gentlemen.

BARTLETT: You're welcome.

TRIPPI: Thanks, Julie.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC