I have a new story up about John McCain’s rally Saturday in Woodbridge, Virginia. You’ve heard all that talk about how angry and hate-filled such gatherings are. And I have to say, there was some anger at the Woodbridge event, but it wasn’t, as some erroneous reports from other McCain rallies have suggested, directed at Barack Obama. It was directed at the press. That morning, the New York Times had published a thin and mean-spirited front-page story on Cindy McCain (more on that later), and many in the crowd were still angry over the media’s treatment of Joe the Plumber. One of them was a man who carried a sign that said CONSTRUCTION WORKER FOR McCAIN. His name was Tito Munoz, he told me:
After McCain left, as the crowd filed out, Munoz made his way to an area near some loudspeakers. He attracted a few reporters when he started talking loudly, in heavily-accented English, about media mistreatment of Wurzelbacher. (It was clear that Spanish was Munoz’s native language, and he later told me he was born in Colombia.) When I first made my way over to him, Munoz thought I was there to give him the third degree.
“Are you going to check my license, too?” he asked me. “Are you going to check my immigration status? I’m ready, I have everything here. Whatever you want, I have it. I have my green card, I have my passport — “
I was a little surprised. Did Munoz really bring his papers with him to a McCain rally? I asked.
“Yeah, I have my papers right here,” he said. “I’m an American citizen. Right here, right here.” With that, he produced a U.S. passport, turned it to the page with his picture on it, and thrust it about an inch from my nose. “Right here,” he said. “In your face.”
Munoz said he owned a small construction business. “I have a license, if you guys want to check,” he said.
Someone asked why Munoz had come to the rally. “I support McCain, but I’ve come to face you guys because I’m disgusted with you guys,” he said. “Why the hell are you going after Joe the Plumber? Joe the Plumber has an idea. He has a future. He wants to be something else. Why is that wrong? Everything is possible in America. I made it. Joe the Plumber could make it even better than me….I was born in Colombia, but I was made in the U.S.A.”
A few moments later, Munoz found himself in a long debate with journalist David Corn, of Mother Jones. More on that later in the story.