(WASHINGTON) — The last time Samuel Wurzelbacher, a plumber from Ohio, attended an Obama campaign rally four years ago, he earned the nickname “Joe the Plumber” and became an icon of Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign when he questioned then-candidate Obama about his tax plan.
But as President Obama’s bus tour rolls through Wurzelbacher’s northern Ohio district on Thursday, Wurzelbacher said he’d steer clear of any Obama events and let his fellow Ohioans answer his questions in the 2012 race.
“As of right now, I don’t have any desire to go there,” Wurzelbacher, who is now running for Congress on the Republican ticket, told ABC News. “His ideology and mine are completely different, and I have no real reason to listen to him speak.”
Wurzelbacher has staked much of his campaign on opposing Obama’s policies, which he claims have made life harder for middle-class residents in his district by placing more regulations on the private sector, raising taxes and kicking the can down the road on America’s big problems, such as the debt and deficit.
“If I was Obama, I would be embarrassed to come here,” Wurzelbacher said.
The latest Quinnipiac University poll in June showed Obama with a nearly 10-point lead over Mitt Romney in Ohio.
With Obama’s hefty lead in Ohio and Wurzelbacher’s district’s already-Democratic leanings, Wurzelbacher faces an uphill battle in his bid for a U.S. House seat. He is facing 15-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Mary Kaptur in Ohio’s newly redrawn 9th district, which borders Lake Erie, extending from Cleveland to Toledo.
Wurzelbacher gained national notoriety as Joe the Plumber after he asked candidate Obama if his tax plan would raise taxes on his small plumbing business. Obama’s GOP rival McCain seized on the encounter, often citing Wurzelbacher as an average American who would be adversely affected by Obama’s policies.
“He talks about transparency, and it hasn’t been. He talks about making the rich stop getting richer and poor stop getting poorer,” Wurzelbacher said. “He says one thing and does another, just like an average politician.”
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David Wright, CNN
Evan Perez and Pamela Brown, CNN
Rachel Sande, EastIdahoNews.com