Out of Bounds: McCain distorts Joe's story

McClatchy NewspapersOctober 18, 2008 

Throw the flag against: John McCain

Call: Unsportsmanlike conduct.

What happened: On Saturday, McCain praised "Joe the Plumber" in his radio address, saying "Joe Wurzelbacher is a straight-talking man himself" and recounting a conversation Wurzelbacher had last week with McCain's rival, Barack Obama. "Joe explained that he works for a small plumbing and heating company," McCain said. "He's been thinking about maybe taking over the business when his boss retires. Problem is, that would make Joe one of millions of small business owners who face a sudden increase in taxes under my opponent's tax plan."

Why that's wrong: Much of the Wurzelbacher story has been shown to be incorrect. He's not a licensed plumber in Ohio, according to state officials, and while his boss, Al Newell, is, Ohio law requires a plumber to register with the state and then seek a local license. Wurzelberger's estimate that the business makes between $250,000 and $280,000 a year turned out also to be exaggerated. Media reports found that the business' estimated total annual revenue was about $100,000. Even if its income reached above $250,000, Obama's higher rate would only apply to amounts above that. Plus, Wurzelberger has said he has no precise plans to buy the company anytime soon.

Penalty: 15 yards for misrepresenting Joe's story — and continuing to do so after it's been shown to be different from how it was first portrayed.

Watch the video of Wurzelbacher with Obama

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