Updated: Monday, 20 Jul 2009, 8:26 AM CDT
Published : Sunday, 19 Jul 2009, 7:58 PM CDT
GREENVILLE - Since last year's presidential race, where he became an icon in the McCain campaign for the working class, the man who has become known as "Joe the Plumber" has spent less time between the pipes and a lot more time at the podium.
"Instead of yelling at my TV, I can yell at people on the stand and yell with them, that's how it's changed," said Sam Wurzelbacher, which is Joe's real name. "I actually have a voice to be heard."
The Ohio man's voice was heard by hundreds in Northeast Wisconsin on Sunday. He headlined the the event "Average Joes, Powerful Voices" at Greenville Lions Park. The "tea party" style event focused on taxes and government spending.
"Every American knows if you don't make enough money, you cut things," said Wurzelbacher. "You use coupons. You don't go out on Friday night. You cut cable. For some reason the government thinks it can spend its way out of debt. Joe Biden said himself the other day, 'it's not working, we need to spend more.' It makes no sense."
"Our government takes over far too much of our lives without representation," said Henrietta Jacobsen of Appleton, who attended the event. "We are marching fast down the past of socialism."
While most of the people in the crowd, as well as the signs they
brought, supported conservative ideals, the event organizer says
the main goal is to just get people involved in the government, no
matter how they vote in the end.
"We want to bring people together and not divide them," said Jim Steineke. "We feel most people agree on the fiscal issues, that we're heading down the wrong path with the bailouts and stimulus money."
While supporters of President Obama and his economic recovery plan say it is important to give change time to happen.
"President Obama stepped in on day one, to one of the largest deficits in history," said Chairman of the Democratic Party of Brown County, Tom Sieber. "That deficit was created in large part by the Republicans. For them to be protesting President Obama who has only been in office for six months is a little over-the-top. I mean you have got to give the guy a chance to fix the mess that he walked into."
While "Joe-the-Plumber" says he'll keep speaking out as long as people will listen.
"They seem to want me to keep doing this, but if it goes away, I'll go back to my life of obscurity, happily," said Wurzelbacher.
Wurzelbacher says he does miss his old job, before politics. He says he tries to bring his son, who traveled with him to Wisconsin, to as many events as possible.