03/13/2012 02:23 pm ET

John McCain Congratulates Joe The Plumber Through HuffPost

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain elevated Sam "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher to minor celebrity status during McCain's 2008 presidential campaign -- a status that the one-time anti-Obama prop traded on last week to win a GOP congressional primary in Ohio.

McCain hasn't had a chance to speak to Wurzelbacher since he took that first key step on the road to challenging Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the fall.

So the Arizona Republican asked The Huffington Post to do the honors for him.

"No, I haven't talked to him," said McCain on Tuesday, smiling and appearing genuinely pleased about the idea of Joe the Plumber winning a primary. "Send my congratulations," said McCain, before heading to his caucus lunch in the Capitol.

Wurzelbacher caught the attention of the McCain campaign after he got into a debate with then-Sen. Barack Obama at a stop in the Buckeye State. Wurzelbacher asked about tax policy, and Obama famously answered that "when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

McCain made that answer a key talking point of his campaign and took Wurzelbacher on the road. Although Wurzelbacher turned out not to be an actual licensed plumber, he parlayed his notoriety into a new career as a conservative commentator. Last week, he won a narrow 51 to 48 percent primary victory over real estate agent Steve Krauss.

Rep. Kaptur is favored in the general election because Ohio's newly drawn 9th District is heavily Democratic.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.