Categorized | Politics

Joe the Plumber Takes Center Stage in Final Debate

BY N’JERI EATON//

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain met for the final presidential debate to discuss domestic policy last night. However, while the country’s current economic woes were a major topic, an unknown citizen stole the show. Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher became a key figure in the debate. Throughout the 90-minute debate, both candidates repeatedly mentioned Joe who seemed to represent middle class America.

At various times during the debate, the candidates looked into the camera and made direct appeals to Joe, and others like him, as they explained the details of their domestic policies. At one point, McCain even referred to him as “my old buddy Joe.”

During the debate, the candidates elaborated on their domestic policies. Although topics such as health care and the economy were discussed in previous debates, this time they provided specifics. The candidates used Joe as a model to show how their health care plans differ.

McCain said that under Obama’s healthcare plan, Joe the Plumber, as an example of a small business owner, would be fined for not providing his employees with health insurance. “I don’t think that Joe right now wants to pay a fine when he is seeing such difficult times in America’s economy,” said McCain.

Obama responded by speaking directly to Joe. “I’m happy to talk to you, Joe, too, if you’re out there,” he said. “Here’s your fine — zero.” Obama went on to explain that small businesses are exempted from the fine and they will receive a 50 percent credit towards providing their employees with health insurance.

Joe’s name was also invoked when the candidates explained their tax plans. McCain said that he would keep taxes low so that people like Joe can “realize the American dream.” He also went on to say his opponent’s plan would put him in a higher tax bracket, increase his taxes and make him unable to hire workers in this troubled economy.

Obama denied this, saying his plan would actually give small businesses a tax break because “they are the drivers of the economy.”

According to the Commission on Presidential Debates transcript, Joe was mentioned 24 times over the course of the 90-minute debate.

The debate was held at Hofstra University in New York; a state which is considered blue and will likely go for Obama in November. The first debate was held in a Mississippi, which is a battleground state, and the second debate was in the red state of Missouri. There are only three weeks left to the election on November 4.

Below are wordles for each candidate, based on the transcript of the third debate.  Wordles are text clouds that are generated by text.  The more a certain word is used, the greater the size.

John McCain in the Third Debate:

Barack Obama in the Third Debate:

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