Held in a hotel ballroom, the crowd, estimated at 150, was reportedly evenly divided between anti-union and union supporters. Tempers flared between the two forces as Mr. Phillips spoke with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Event organizer Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a Washington-based pro-business nonprofit, said union members would use the public petition method to intimidate workers into signing. Phillips is using Wurzelbacher's two-day, three-stop tour to organize a Pennsylvania chapter of his organization.When Joe the Plumber, formally known as Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, addressed the crowd the chorus of boos from the pro-union forces were some of the loudest of the evening as he was taunted about not having a plumber's license in his home state of Ohio. According to the Tribune-Review, Mr. Wurzelbacher tried to quiet the crowd:
"Take a look right back there. What they're doing is making our point," Phillips said.
"A little bit of respect and courtesy and we'll get through this," Wurzelbacher said."Joe" gained fame during last year's presidential campaign when he asked a question of then-candidate Barack Obama. But he has faced what others who speak out on issues have faced -- scrutiny and oppositional research from an unfriendly media, something that prevents many from becoming involved and drives others away:
Wurzelbacher rose to prominence during a presidential debate last year when Sen. John McCain used him to attack President Obama's tax plan. McCain and running mate Sarah Palin brought him on the campaign trail.It's good to have Joe the Plumber standing up for the privacy rights of union members, and it's good to know Americans for Prosperity is working to protect those rights, too.
Wurzelbacher, who said he's not stumping for a political party, blamed the "mainstream media" for what he said were attempts to discredit him.
"I served my country. I'm allowed to ask any politician any question I want," Wurzelbacher said. "But they have no reason to try to discredit me in any way, shape or form."
These days, he makes his living from speaking fees and limits his plumbing work for family and friends, he said. Wurzelbacher, who declined to say how much he makes in appearance fees, will speak in Harrisburg and Philadelphia today.
He plans to appear soon in commercials supporting a switch from income to sales taxes.