At certain points last night it felt like there were three people taking part in the debate: Obama, McCain and one "Joe the Plumber". Joe first popped up during a discussion of Obama's tax plan and later during the discussion on healthcare. At each mention of his name the candidates would turn sincerely to the camera and explain how they had Joe's best interests at heart.
Now I've been following this campaign pretty closely (it's a guilty pleasure - Huffington Post is my equivalent of Heat magazine) but, tuning into the debate late, I had no idea who Joe was. Was Joe the creation of clever pollsters? Were there thousands of Joe the Plumbers out there, people who would swing this election like the "security moms" supposedly did last time round? Perhaps he was simply the product of McCain's panicked imagination (he is erratic you know). Was this new Joe any relation to "Joe six-pack"? Perhaps they were one and the same.
It was only this morning that I discovered that Joe is very much real (something I expect oD USA readers knew all along). His full name is Joe Wurzelbacher and he comes from Ohio. It was a discussion with him last Sunday that prompted Obama to speak the four short words that so disgusted Fox News readers: "spread the wealth around". After last night's debate Joe is apparently still unconvinced that Obama's tax plan won't punish small businesses like his. Asked about the repeated references to him and his business, Joe declared that it was "pretty surreal, man". Joe - if I can call you Joe - you're not wrong!
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