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Joe Wurzelbacher, known as ‘Joe the Plumber’ in 2008 election, dies at 49

Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio man who became well-known as “Joe the Plumber” after questioning Barack Obama about his tax plan during the 2008 election campaign, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 49.

Wurzelbacher died on Sunday morning after a months-long battle with pancreatic cancer, according to close friends. He is survived by his wife Katie, their three young children – Samantha Jo, Henry and Sarah Jo – and an adult son, Joey, from a previous marriage.

A crowdfunding campaign for Wurzelbacher’s family raised more than $120,000.

Wurzelbacher rose to national fame after asking Barack Obama, then the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, about his tax plan and whether he’d have to pay more as a small business owner.

“I’m getting ready to buy a company that makes $250-280,000 a year. Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” Wurzelbacher asked Obama at a campaign stop near Toledo, Ohio in October 2008.

Obama admitted that Wurzelbacher would have to pay more in taxes for revenue above $250,000, adding that he wanted to give smaller businesses a tax cut to “spread the wealth around.”

The encounter prompted discussion when it was cited by Republican opponent John McCain, who said the comments exposed Obama for having a socialist, wealth-distributing world view.

Wurzelbacher later joined McCain and his running mate, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, at campaign rallies. He also became a key topic at the final presidential debate, with “Joe the Plumber” representing the quintessential American everyman.

In 2016, Wurzelbacher voted for Republican nominee Donald Trump, who won the election.

“He’s a winner. He’s made billions. He’s dated beautiful women. His wife is a model. That’s not to sniff at. And a lot of people believe he can bring that kind of success to the White House,” Wurzelbacher said in an interview with Reuters in 2016.

Joe the Plumber with his family Joe Wurzelbacher, known as ‘Joe the Plumber’ in 2008 election, dies at 49

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