The Cain Train Gains A New Icon: Joe the Plumber

The former 2012 GOP candidate has joined forces with the 2008 GOP campaign icon.

ByABC News
February 21, 2012, 1:40 PM

February 21, 2012 -- intro: It's a match made in tax reform heaven. The diehard promoter of tax code simplicity has teamed up with the Main Street icon of small-business tax plans to promote what is perhaps the most well-known tax reform plan in history: 9-9-9.

Herman Cain announced today that he's partnered with Joe Wurzelbacher, aka "Joe the Plumber," of 2008 election campaign fame, who is now running for the U.S. House in Ohio, to continue the fight for a tax code based on a 9 percent personal income tax, 9 percent corporate income tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.

"Joe the Plumber agrees that 'blowing up' the current federal tax code is paramount to the success of this nation," Cain said in a statement. "And we have seen firsthand he's not afraid to tell the president so."

Wurzelbacher reached national notoriety during the 2008 general election for asking then-candidate Obama during a campaign sweep through Ohio whether he would have to pay more taxes if he bought a plumbing business that made $250,000 to $280,000 a year.

Obama's general election rival John McCain seized the moment and often cited "Joe the Plumber" as an everyday American who would be adversely affected by his opponent's tax plan, even though analysts offered varying opinions as to whether Wurzelbacher would have received a tax increase or a tax cut under Obama's plan.

Four years and a heavy dose of frustration with elected officials later, Wurzelbacher is taking matters into his own hands and pledging to promote Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan if elected to Congress.

Wurzelbacher is hopping on the Cain Train, or rather the "Cain Revolution" bus, for a three-event swing through Ohio this week. The two will appear together at two rallies and a Lincoln Day dinner.

"Joe is an unconventional candidate, just like I was," Cain said. "He shows a true workingman's appreciation for what it is to be a good steward of the hard-earned money the government takes from us in the form of taxes."

But Wurzelbacher is not the only 2008 campaign icon who is snatching at the spotlight again this election cycle. Click through to find out what the likes of Obama Girl, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and other famous names of 2008 are up to this time around.

quicklist: 1title: Joe the Plumbertext:

In the heat of the 2008 general election between Barack Obama and John McCain, Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, 38, went from a little-known blue collar worker in Ohio to a nationally known symbol of candidate Obama's tax policy.

The McCain campaign used the plumber to personify small-business owners who would be hurt by Obama's plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire for upper-income earners, catapulting Wurzelbacher into the media firestorm of the heated presidential race. He appeared alongside McCain at campaign events, was cited in stump speeches and mentioned at debates.

Four years later, the previously nonpolitical plumber has launched his own political campaign, running to represent Ohio in the U.S. House.

"Politicians keep playing politics with our lives. I'm sick and tired of it," Wurzelbacher said in an October speech announcing his candidacy. "I'm not doing this because I want to be a congressman. I'm not doing this because I want power. I am going to run because I've been there. I know how it is to live paycheck to paycheck."

Wurzelbacher is running in a contested Republican primary, and if he emerges he'll face long-time Reps. Dennis Kucinich or Mary Kaptur, who were redistricted into the same district as Wurzelbacher and are battling it out in a Democratic primary.

Wurzelbacher's campaign spokesman said he is not planning to endorse a Republican presidential candidate but is running fiercely against Obama's economic policies, which are "making everyone poor," Wurzelbacher wrote on his campaign website.

"We all have to work to stop this insanity," Wurzelbacher wrote. "I am choosing not to be a spectator in the governing of this country. I am choosing to fight the power grabs and corruption that is permeating every level of our government."

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quicklist:2title: Obama Girl text:

The Obama Girl is back, but the sexy, singing YouTube sensation who had "a crush on Obama" in 2008 is less smitten with President Obama than she was with candidate Obama.

Obama Girl actress Amber Lee Ettinger said her support for the president has faded in the past four years, but her Obama Girl character will always be a fan of her man.

"I always will feel like I have a connection to him, but this time around I am still undecided about who I will vote for," Ettinger told ABC News.

Ettinger, who recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, said her Obama Girl gig has upped her name recognition but has also closed some doors.

"If you're on YouTube, some people don't see you as an actress," she said.

In a 2010 interview, Ettinger said she would give Obama a B-minus because he was "doing OK" as president. The YouTube sensation said she would have liked to see Obama focus more on jobs and the economy instead of health care, which she told the New York Post was "definitely a distraction because of the economy being as bad as it is."

Despite Ettinger's skepticism, Obama Girl has already re-emerged in 2012. In a video released last month, Obama Girl appears as a spoofed version of the lead character in "Girl With a Dragon Tattoo" and sabotages the GOP candidates' presidential campaigns.

Obama Girl cranks up her sex appeal to taunt Obama in a Grease-style spoof of "You're the One that I Want." "You wanna my vote?" she asks in the video. "My vote you need, or change indeed."

Ettinger said there's "definitely" more to come on the YouTube front for the 2012 campaign.

"As this election starts heating up all the excitement has started to grow again," Ettinger said. "People kind of want to see what [Obama Girl] is up to."

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quicklist: 3title: Rielle Huntertext:

Reille Hunter's extra-marital affair, love child and sex tape with Democratic senator-turned-presidential-candidate John Edwards was one of the juiciest scandals to hit politics in the 21st century. And despite Edwards' nearly complete withdrawal from politics, the scandal is still making headlines four years later.

When the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer first broke the story in late 2007 that Edwards was cheating on his cancer-stricken wife with Hunter, then a videographer for his presidential PAC, Edwards' vehement denials were enough to discredit the tabloid scandal.

But after leaving the presidential race in January 2008, Edwards confessed to the affair in August, soon after which Hunter gave birth to baby girl. Edwards would not admit that he was the child's father until January 2010. Within weeks of admitting paternity, reports of a sex tape emerged and Hunter broke her silence.

Hunter has since discussed the affair, the child and the sex tape in multiple interviews, including one with Oprah Winfrey and one for GQ magazine.

After Edwards' wife Elizabeth died of breast cancer in December 2010, rumors surfaced that he was engaged to Hunter the following month, but the rumors were later proved false.

Neither party has yet to close the book on the tabloid-topping scandal, as both of them are still battling out the details in court. Edwards is on trial for a six-count federal indictment alleging that he helped funnel cash from wealthy donors to keep his pregnant mistress from being exposed during his presidential bid.

Hunter hits the courtroom in March in a lawsuit to recover the sex tape she and Edwards made from Edwards' former campaign aide Andrew Young, who originally claimed paternity of Hunters' child in an attempt to shield Edwards from the political backlash.

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quicklist: 4title: The Rev. Jeremiah Wrighttext:

In 2008, he was the character who threatened to topple Obama's lead over Hillary Clinton in the bitter Democratic presidential primary, but the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has excluded himself from the political spotlight this time.

Wright, Obama's pastor for more than 20 years, became the focal point for Obama's critics after ABC broke the story that Wright had preached that America was to blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks and told his congregation, "God Damn America."

The Obama family left the church in May 2008 amid the Democratic primary, after months of controversy from Wright's comments.

Wright retired as the senior pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ in late 2008 and has kept a relatively low profile since. He still occasionally preaches at his old church and travels the country giving sermons and speeches.

Wright was in Washington, D.C., last month to give a sermon at Howard University honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day. During the sermon, Wright's plea that worshipers plow forward through tough times seemed to echo the calls of his former parishioner-turned-president.

"This ain't no short-term battle, no brief skirmish. This is a protracted war," he said, according to the Washington Post. "Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out."

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