"Josephine the Plumber" meets Sarah the Governor
Morgan County citizen Pam Jones reaps benefits of being named Georgia's "Joe the Plumber"
By Kathryn Purcell
It started with a call to action, and a handheld camera-made video in her antiques store.
Before all was said and done, however, Rutledge resident and Barn Raising owner Pam Jones was shaking hands with former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Jones' story begins with the excitement of the Presidential Campaign.
"I was a member of McCainSpace, a social networking, John McCain site," Jones said. "That's where we blogged, encouraged each other, shared ideas during the election."
Already in touch with other supporters as well as the campaign, and after the advent of Joe the Plumber, Jones received an e-mail from the Georgia McCain campaign calling for small business owners to share their stories.
With a subject line of "Do You Know a Joe?," the e-mail reads "We'd like to activate as many small business owners as possible to speak out on Obama's plans to drag small business owners and their employees down. Please reach out to your friends, family, and neighbors to recruit new Joe's.
Thank your local banker, the couple at your corner store, and even your plumber for their hard work and dedication, and invite them to share their story with us...We'd be proud to add them to the team!"
So, with the encouragement of a friend, Jones e-mailed the campaign back with her story, explaining her feeling on the plight of her antique store and her husband's hardware store would face should Obama be elected, comparing that with what she predicted would happen to the small businesses should McCain be elected.
"Armed with nothing more than lipstick and plungers and a big dose of true American entrepreneurial spirit, we're fighting right beside McCain [and] Palin as we have fought all our lives to make it through the bad times and to keep ourselves in business," Jones wrote, in one e-mail to the state campaign.
The campaign replied with a request for a video clip to be posted on YouTube.
"They asked for a short, 30-second video clip," Jones said. "You had to take your story, and compact it into 30 seconds."
Filming the clip with a video-capable, point-and-shoot camera, and standing in the middle of the floor of her antique store, Jones condensed her story to, well, a minute and 10 seconds. She titled the clip "Josephine the Plumber," and posted it to YouTube.
A few days later, Jones received a telephone call from a friend in New York who exclaimed to her that she was pictured on an e-mail sent out from the national campaign. In complete disbelief, Jones opened her e-mail only to find that she was front and center, part of a series of advertisements generated by the McCain campaign with the headline "I am Joe."
She clicked on her picture, and was linked to a commercial, also generated by the McCain campaign.
While the advertisement only ran once in Georgia - on a FOX News television show at 8 a.m. - it ran consistently in many of swing states leading up to November 4, according to Jones.
After that fame, she was contacted by Clint Murphy, Southeast Deputy Regional Campaign Manager. While more press was planned around Georgia's "Josephine the Plumber," Jones and Murphy began a dialogue, which lasted even after the conclusion General Election.
After learning that Palin would be speaking at a rally for Saxby Chambliss, who was, at that time, in a run-off campaign with Jim Martin over one of two Georgia seats in the U.S. Senate, Jones e-mailed Murphy to see if there was a chance for her to be in attendance.
"I e-mailed Clint, 'I hear Sarah Palin's coming. As Georgia's Joe the Plumber, is there any opportunity I could meet with her?'" Jones wrote.
According to Jones, Murphy replied that the only way to meet Palin was to be on stage with her at the rally, and to shake her hand as she passed.
Murphy made some calls, sent some e-mails and, come Monday, December 1, Jones found herself (and her daughter) on stage at the Gwinnett Arena, "I am Joe" sign in hand, just a few feet separating her from her political rock star.
Palin spoke for several minutes, then turned to greet those on stage. When she finally got to Jones, Jones was quick to identify herself as Georgia's Joe from the commercial. Palin recognized her, and smiled.
"It was so nice to see a little recognition in her eye," Jones said. "I said, 'Will you still keep working for us Joes?' She said, 'I sure will.' She gave me a good handshake."
With that promise in mind, Jones has faith that the nation hasn't seen the end of Sarah Palin. And next time, Jones hopes for more success for the Alaska Governor.
"It's because she has that personal connection with everybody," Jones said. "I think she'll be back."