'Joe the Plumber': 'Put a fence on the damn border and start shooting'

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- The man nicknamed "Joe the Plumber," during the 2008 presidential campaign told crowds in Prescott the solution to securing the border is putting up a fence and shooting at illegal crossers.

He first made the remarks Friday night at a campaign event for Republican state lawmaker Lori Klein, who is now running for a state House seat in District 1. 

"For years I've said, you know, put a damn fence on the border, going to Mexico and start shooting," Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher told a crowd at a fundraising dinner.

He reiterated the comments the following day at a "Patriot Rally" with Klein, saying: "I'm running for Congress. How many congressmen or people running for Congress have you heard, put a fence up and start shooting? None? Well you heard it here first. Put troops on the border and start shooting, I bet that solves our immigration problem real quick."

The speeches were both recorded by Prescott eNews.

The remarks drew cheers from the crowd, but have been criticized by Arizona elected officials.

House Speaker Andy Tobin, who is running against Klein in District 1, said Wurzelbacher should apologize, or go back to Ohio, where he is from.

"I would ask for him to retract the statement as made in jest, and if not made in jest, I'm appalled at him," Tobin said. "We don't do that in Arizona."

After this story was broadcast, Lori Klein sent an email to 3TV saying in part: 

"Obviously, I believe we need to secure our borders and we have a serious problem which we all need to take very seriously.  We do need to crack down on human smuggling, the drug trade and secure our borders even if we need to put troops there...It is very sad as we are not doing enough to protect Americans and secure our borders.  We can do better.  Joe’s comments were again said in jest and no one took it seriously other than the media and those that support those that come here illegally.  I do not

Wurzelbacher gained notoriety asking then-candidate Barack Obama a question about a small-business tax at a campaign event. But it was Sen. John McCain who latched onto the story of "Joe the Plumber" and made Wurzelbacher a fixture on the campaign trail.

McCain's daughter, Megan, called Wurzelbacher's shooting comments "ridiculous."