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Barack Obama has his own 'Joe the Plumber' riff

October 29, 2008 | 12:36 pm

Credit John McCain and his message-makers with this -- when they decided two weeks ago to make "Joe the Plumber" the personification of their negative critique of Barack Obama's economic policies, they introduced a rhetorical device with staying power.

McCain rallies, as often as not, now are billed as "Joe the Plumber" events, and attendees oblige with signs offering themselves as variations of the working-class stiff from Ohio.

The plumber himself -- Samuel J. Wurzelbacher -- has hit the trail for the Republican ticket. And Sarah Palin was joined this week by another embodiment of blue-collar America, "Tito the Builder."

But here's the surest sign that the schtick has stuck -- Obama, who takes great personal care in crafting the words he speaks, has incorporated it into his stump speeches.

Here's an alliterative sound bite from his remarks to a crowd in Raleigh, N.C., as passed along by The Times' Michael Finnegan:

Whether you are Suzy the Student, or Nancy the Nurse, or Tina the Teacher or Carl the Construction worker –- if my opponent is elected, you will be worse off four years from now than you are today.

Obama also offered a quotable retort to the McCain's suggestions that his policies veer toward socialism. “By the end of the week, he’ll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten,” Obama joked. “I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds was at the ready with a response: “No one cares what Barack Obama does with his toys, but Americans do care that he wants to raise taxes, add a trillion dollars in new spending and redistribute your hard-earned paycheck as he sees fit.”

-- Don Frederick

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