MELBOURNE -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain told a campaign rally in this Florida city that he spoke with the now famous "Joe the Plumber" for the first time on Friday.
Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher from Toledo, in the swing state of Ohio, rose to fame after confronting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and challenging him on the benefits of his proposed tax policies.
McCain mentioned "Joe the Plumber" several times during the final presidential debate with Obama late Wednesday, using him as an example of a small businessman who would see his taxes raise under Obama.
McCain told the Melbourne crowd he had spoken with Wurzelbacher for the first time Friday morning, by telephone.
"He's a great guy," McCain said, and "proud of his grandfather who served in the US Marines Corps."
At the rally several McCain supporters wore T-shirts that read "Hello, my name is Joe the Plumber."
The Arizona senator has released a hard-hitting new campaign spot using footage of Obama's meeting with Wurzelbacher, and Obama's comment that he wanted to "spread the wealth around."
Obama says that only individuals making over $200,000 and families making more than a quarter of a million will face higher taxes if he is president, and most middle-class people will pay less.
The Toledo Blade newspaper reported that Wurzelbacher was not registered as a plumber in Ohio at all. Another report said that Wurzelbacher was behind on his taxes.
And on ABC News, Wurzelbacher admitted he earned nowhere near $250,000 -- but dreamed of purchasing a business worth $280,000.
Earlier Friday at a Miami rally McCain also talked about Joe.
"We're going to fight for Joe, my friends, we are going to fight for him," McCain said.
"The question Joe asked about our economy is important, because Senator Obama's plan would raise taxes on small businesses that employ 16 million Americans. Senator Obama's plan will kill those jobs at just the time when we need to be creating more jobs," he said.
Said McCain: "My plan will create jobs, and that's what America needs."
McCain assured that crowd that Wurzelbacher "wasn't recruited or prompted by our campaign. He just asked a question."