Samuel Wurzelbacher, more commonly known as "Joe the Plumber" from the 2008 presidential campaign, appeared on CNN Thursday morning following his GOP primary victory in Ohio's 9th Congressional District, in an interview that turned contentious over his qualifications and past comments about gays.
Wurzelbacher answered a question about what he did for a living, which he said included building houses, public speaking and encouraging Americans to be informed about who they vote for.
CNN host Zoraida Sambolin asked him how that qualifies him to run for Congress.
Wurzelbacher laughed for a few seconds and said, "What qualifies me? One, I'm an American citizen. Two, I'm very much involved in the process of what's going on." He continued, "I guess my question would be, what qualifies the current politicians who are killing the country -- Republicans and Democrats alike. I'm sorry, it just seems like a silly question."
Sambolin defended the question, saying, "People want to know what your qualifications are, your breadth of experience in order to lead."
"My breadth of experience is that I've worked all my life," responded Wurzelbacher. "See these hands right here?" he said, showing his hands to the camera. "There's calluses on them. I've worked the last 25 years having to make results. … Politicians live off the backs of broke taxpayers."
Sambolin later asked whether he had changed his position on comments he made to Christianity Today in 2009 about gays. "Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that," Wurzelbacher told Christianity Today. He added that he has had friends who "are actually homosexual" and that they know that he wouldn't let them near his children.
"So this is TMZ, this isn't CNN, is what you're saying?" Wurzelbacher asked Sambolin.
"Of course it’s CNN," she responded. "These are things that you said, that I would like to know if you still stand by them or if you have changed your positions on them."
"No, I want everyone to have a job," he said before she interrupted him to ask about the comments.
"Listen, in my dictionary, and everyone’s dictionary in 1970s, the word queer did mean strange and unusual. There was no slur to it. Do you challenge that?"
The two talked over each other before he said, "You're trying to do a 'gotcha' moment, it's quite obvious."
As the interview drew to a close, he said, "I’m allowed to have my opinions as an American, but it seems the left becomes very intolerant when you have an opinion other than what they state."
Wurzelbacher -- who had raised and spent over $60,000, much more than $10,000 spent by his obscure opponent Steve Kraus -- escaped with a narrow primary victory Tuesday, winning by a 51 to 48 percent margin.
He faces Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) in a heavily Democratic district. She defeated Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in a landslide Tuesday in a primary for the reconfigured 9th District, which pitted the two against each other because of GOP-led redistricting.
UPDATE: Gay conservative group GOProud came to Wurzelbacher's defense Thursday. GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia and Wurzelbacher issued a joint statement. "The left and their friends in the mainstream media don't want to talk about the issue most Americans in this country today care about -- jobs. Instead, they want a culture war," they said. "I am not a career politician and I certainly do not speak like one, but I want everyone to know that I believe in treating every American, gay or straight, with decency and respect," said Wurzelbacher separately.
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