Lessons from Tito the Builder

Joe the Plumber may neverhave fancied himself the mascot of the Republican Party, but Tito Munoz seemedfully prepared for the role.

Munoz showed up at a McCain rally in Woodbridge, Va.last weekend dressed in a yellow hardhat and orange surveyor vest, decked out inMcCain-Palin flair andsporting a sign that read “Construction Worker for McCain-Palin” on one sideand “Media—Tell the Whole Story!” on the other. During McCain’s stump speech,Munoz was behind the candidate, alongside “Phil the Bricklayer” and “Rose theTeacher.”

After McCain had left, Munoz planted himself a few yardsbehind the press bleachers and started shouting about the media. He quicklyattracted a small crowd of reporters and fellow rally-goers. (Listen to audio of Munoz here and here , and see the Mother Jones video here .)

“Why you guys have to go and find every little thing thatJoe the Plumber is about?” he demanded. “How come you have not done the samething with Obama?”

If publicity was Munoz’s goal, it worked. National Review ’s Byron York devoted800 words to Munoz in a story about the “Joe the Plumber” phenomenon, whichreceived considerableblog attention . The McCain campaign noticed, and two days later Sarah Palinintroduced “Tito the builder” into her stump speech.

“Tito is not pleased with how the Barack Obama campaign andsome of the media friends there have been roughing up Joe the Plumber,” Palin saidat a Colorado rally .

Is it really that easy to insert oneself into the campaignstoryline? Munoz’s case is worthy of a close read. Here are a few tips on howto become a McCain campaign personality:

  • Make Your ProfessionClear. Sarah Palin cannot shoehorn you into the “(name) the (profession)”formula if she doesn’t know what you do. Blue-collar jobs are preferable butnot required. If your line of work involves a uniform, wear it . (Note: PartyCity has hundreds of locations nationwide.)
  • Choose a red-meatissue. Choices include media bias, taxes, and William Ayers. No need toconfine yourself to one if the spirit moves you. Just let it flow.
  • Find David Corn. Thebulk of Munoz’s tirade was directed at MotherJones Washington bureau chief David Corn , who provokedhim for several minutes with requests for facts to back-up his arguments. Thatexchange got the crowd riled around Munoz, which attracted more people and morereporters. If Corn isn’t present, any journalist willing to engage the mob willsuffice.
  • Humility, humility. “I’mjust an ordinary person, like everybody,” Munoz told the crowd. “But I’m tiredof listening to the bias in the media. And today I make a decision to come andsupport [McCain] and come and confront you guys.”
  • Project. Munozwas not without competition during his impromptu press-bashing pressconference. At one point, a taller man in a brown jacket directly behindhim—pictured here—briefly stole the spotlight when he started yelling that”human life begins at conception, end of story.” Not to be outdone, Tito simplyout-shouted his competitor.

It worked for Tito. Meanwhile, Senate candidate and former Virginia governor JimGilmore stood twenty feet away, looking lonely.