CNN’s David Gergen Mocks Joe the Plumber, Asks Why McCain Didn’t Vet Him

David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst | NewsBusters.orgOn Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360 program, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen followed the liberal talking points about how Joe the Plumber’s real first name is Samuel and how he doesn’t have a plumbing license. When host Anderson Cooper asked if John McCain benefitted from the attention on the Ohio laborer, Gergen replied, "Well, I think he was for a while. But I -- when we found out he was Sam the non-plumber, it changed a little bit." Gergen went on to treat Joe Wurzelbacher, who works with plumbing, as if he worked as a McCain campaign surrogate: "...I don't understand why the McCain team didn't vet the guy before they made such a -- you know, made such a focus on him on national television. I can guarantee you that the George W. Bush campaign, you know, which ran a highly disciplined campaign, would have vetted and would have known before he went out there about... his personal status."

Gergen participated in a panel discussion with host Anderson Cooper, CNN contributor and Obama supporter Roland Martin, and Republican strategist Ed Rollins. These three played off of the analyst’s quip. Cooper asked Martin, "Roland, we just heard Obama kind of joking about McCain's support for Joe the non-plumber, or sort of the plumber, or whatever he is. Does Obama, though, need to be careful?" In his reply, Martin referred to Wurzelbacher as "Joe the fake plumber." Even Rollins got in on the act: "First of all, let me just give a little advice, unsolicited advice to Joe the Plumber. Get Joe the plumber on your truck with a 1-800 number and keep your mouth shut and go make a fortune doing plumbing work."

Cooper, in his first question to Rollins, asked about the facial expressions made by McCain and Obama during their last presidential debate. He gave examples of both, but focused on McCain in particular: "[Y]ou saw John McCain often kind of being dismissive of Obama. You saw Obama, at times, smiling and kind of laughing at some of the things John McCain was saying, kind of shaking his head. How do you think that played out, and how can John McCain have allowed himself to be caught like that?" The panelists then proceeded to talk about this subject for a good part of the segment, all the while ignoring the issue of what Obama had said in response to "Joe the Plumber:" "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody ... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion, which began 13 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour of Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360:

ANDERSON COOPER: So, David, is McCain benefiting from all the attention that Joe is getting?

DAVID GERGEN: (Laughs) Well, I think he was for a while. But I -- when we found out he was Sam the non-plumber, it changed a little bit.

(Roland Martin laughs.)

GERGEN: I'm glad you had to -- give him a chance, though, to voice his opinion, because he does -- I think he does give voice to those of a lot of Americans who don't often get on national television. So, I thought that's fine. But I think we are going to move on pretty fast. I can't -- I -- it does illustrate, as well, Anderson -- I don't understand why the McCain team didn't vet the guy before they made such a -- you know, made such a focus on him on national television. I can guarantee you that the George W. Bush campaign, you know, which ran a highly disciplined campaign, would have vetted and would have known before he went out there about his status -- his personal status. You feel a little sorry for him, that he got put in this position.

COOPER: Yeah. You know, Roland, we just heard Obama kind of joking about McCain's support for Joe the non-plumber, or sort of the plumber, or whatever he is. Does Obama, though, need to be careful? I mean, he warned his own supporters today about being complacent. Does Obama need to be careful about coming off as a little bit, kind of dismissive at times?

ROLAND MARTIN: Well, I think so. I mean, again, the -- the issue is not really this individual guy and his background. It's really what this guy represents, and so, I think what Obama has to do is -- he's not getting caught playing around with Joe, you know, the fake plumber or whatever -- but, again, stay focused on the big issues. If you saw how he scored well last night -- he scored well when he got to health care. I mean, numbers were off the charts -- when he focused on education. Even when he gave a very strong answer dealing with the Supreme Court -- if he stays focused on those issues, not dealing with the small issues, he looks larger. He looks more presidential. That's where he has to remain and, again, get his people to the polls. Turnout is key.

COOPER: Ed, the reaction shots last night, side by side -- you saw John McCain often kind of being dismissive of Obama. You saw Obama, at times, smiling and kind of laughing at some of the things John McCain was saying, kind of shaking his head. How do you think that played out, and how can John McCain have allowed himself to be caught like that?

ED ROLLINS: First of all, let me just give a little advice, unsolicited advice to Joe the plumber. Get Joe the plumber on your truck with a 1-800 number and keep your mouth shut and go make a fortune doing plumbing work.

(Cooper, Gergen, and Martin laugh.)

COOPER: Get a license to be a plumber, and start doing it.

ROLLINS: Absolutely. Be a plumber. Do what you do well.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center