In 2008, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher became a symbol of everyday, working Americans and earned the moniker “Joe the Plumber” after pointedly asking then-presidential candidate Barack Obama about his tax policies.
Wurzelbacher served as a surrogate for Republican John McCain’s failed 2008 presidential campaign, and he then entered electoral politics himself, unsuccessfully running for Congress in 2012. A favorite among many tea party activists, Wurzelbacher raised about $426,000 for his campaign and won the GOP nomination in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District, but he ultimately lost the general election to Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur.
These days, Wurzelbacher is a vocal supporter of Republican President Donald Trump. Wurzelbacher traveled to Washington, D.C., for Trump’s inauguration, where the Center for Public Integrity caught up with the plumber-turned-conservative activist in a VIP section ahead of Trump’s swearing-in ceremony.
This interview has been edited for clarity.