There are three suggestions I would make to anyone trying to manufacture a “Joe the Plumber” moment in a national political campaign.
First, don’t do it: Obama’s meeting with Joe Wurzelbacher was devastating for the candidate because it was an unscripted moment with a real person that Obama completely fumbled.
You can’t manufacture that sort of moment, you just have to hope you have a camera on the candidate when something like that occurs. As part of our new political reality of the past several election cycles, campaign “trackers” hold just that very role, following candidates in their every waking moment hoping to catch such a moment on tape to be mercilessly exploited.
If you decide to abandon all common sense and try manufacture a relationship to attack a candidate on, it is important to chose a spokesman who doesn’t have glassy eyes and halting disjointed speech that suggests he shared bong hits with the camera crew directly before taping.
Third, if you are going to make absurd claims, try to make sure that you’ve done the basic research so that the claim doesn’t blow up in your face. Hayes claims:
“My name is Richard Hayes, and I pick up Mitt Romney’s trash. We’re kind of like the invisible people. He doesn’t realize that the service we provide — if it wasn’t for us, it would be a big health issue, us not picking up trash.
“Residents do come out and shake our hands. Sometimes they give us hugs and thank us for the job we’re doing, hand us water and Gatorades. Tell us we’re doing a good job and keep up the good work. Picking up 15, 16 tons by hand, that takes a toll on your body. When I’m 55, 60 years old, I know my body’s gonna be break down [sic]. Mitt Romney doesn’t care about that.”