And with this, JTP has officially been name-checked by all four candidates today. The way the video’s cut, picking up mid-sentence, it sounds like Obama’s sneering at Wurzelbacher for being a plumber — “A plumber is the guy he’s fighting for” — to the great amusement of the crowd. The full quote:

Obama said McCain was misleading voters by proposing tax plans that favor the rich while criticizing an Obama tax plan that would raise taxes only on people making more than $250,000 a year, just 5 percent of all taxpayers.

He’s trying to suggest that a plumber is the guy he’s fighting for,” Obama said. “How many plumbers you know that are making a quarter-million dollars a year?”

They’re laughing at McCain for claiming to be a friend of the middle class, not at Wurzelbacher for being middle class. Given the Bittergate fiasco and his image as an elitist, would The One really crap on a profession as quintessentially blue-collar as plumbing in a public setting, especially with the election so close? In context, I’m not even sure that the line about making a quarter mil a year is aimed at Wurzelbacher. I take his point to be not that JTP is lying about aspiring to make that much, but that even if he succeeds, he’d be such an extreme outlier that Maverick can’t fairly use him as a proxy for plumbers (or the middle class) generally.

But judge for yourself. Whatever Obama meant, the AP’s seen to it that the dirt on JTP’s tax lien problem will be beamed out to wire services and reported around the world tomorrow. Note to self: Make sure you’re capable of passing the equivalent of a federal background check before challenging The One on his polices. Click the image to watch.

Update: Team Maverick seizes the moment:

“It’s an outrage that the Obama campaign and the media are attacking Joe the Plumber for asking a legitimate question of a presidential candidate. This is why voters still have so many questions about Barack Obama. Instead of answering tough questions, his campaign attacks average Americans for daring to look at the reality behind his words, said Tucker Bounds, spokesman the McCain-Palin campaign. “John McCain will continue to fight on behalf of all hardworking Americans like Joe for policies geared toward increasing prosperity and reducing the burden on taxpayers — not ‘spreading the wealth around’ for Senator Government to distribute as he sees fit.”