The Ohio plumber who was thrust into the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign for questioning Democrat candidate Barack Obama about his proposed tax plan died last Sunday after a battle with pancreatic cancer, NBC News reported.
The wife of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber,” confirmed his death at the age of 49. Wurzelbacher was diagnosed last year with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer after months of struggling with stomach issues, according to the GiveSendGo fundraising page.
In a statement on Monday, Wuzelbacher’s wife Katie described her husband as “an average, honorable man” who tried to do “great things for the country he loved” after he was “thrust in the public eye for asking a question.”
Katie and Joe married in 2011 and have three children. Joe also has an adult son from his previous marriage.
Wurzelbacher found himself at the center of a media frenzy in 2008 for daring to challenge candidate Barack Obama while the Democrat was meeting with Ohio voters during a campaign appearance.
The plumber and small business owner asked the popular Democrat if his tax plan would force him to pay more in taxes after he purchased a company making between $250,000 and $280,000 a year.
Obama told Wurzelbacher that under his tax plan, the plumber would be offered a tax credit to cover health care costs and argued that 95 percent of small businesses make less than $250,000.
After that brief exchange, the media began combing through Wurzelbacher’s life while Obama’s challenger, Republican candidate John McCain seized on “Joe the Plumber” to hammer his opponent.
During one debate between the two candidates, “Joe the Plumber” was mentioned around 25 times, according to a 2008 report in the UK Guardian.
In October 2008, Wurzelbacher told Fox News that the online criticism of him made him feel “small.”