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Were it not for the 2008 presidential race, the world might never have heard of Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher. Nor would Edith Childs have likely been well-known outside of Greenwood County, South Carolina.With the 2012 race well underway, we checked up on where a few notable figures from the last presidential campaign are now. You’ll be surprised what some of them are up to.
The former Alaska Senator returned to politics after a nearly 30-year absence to compete in the 2008 Democratic primary. His campaign never really took off and is best remembered not for his platform, but for his curmudgeonly attitude and complaints that he was being marginalized in televised debates -- that is, until he was ultimately excluded form the debates altogether.
Gravel has remained out of electoral politics since then, but earlier this month, he told The Daily Caller that he would 'probably' launch an intra-party challenge to Obama next year if he can raise $1 million to support that effort.
Joe Wurzelbacher isn't just a plumber anymore. Wurzelbacher used his sudden stardom to land a book deal and launch his public speaking career. In 2009, he addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), though later that year he told Time Magazine that he quit the Republican party because he was fed up with their overspending. Last year, fans tried to draft him to run for Congress, a call he decided not to answer. He still appears at conservative events, such as a fundraiser for the Arizona GOP last month where he posed for a snapshot with actor Steven Segal.
Speculation abounded in 2008 that Vicki Iseman, a lobbyist who had worked closely with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the past, had actually had an affair with the GOP presidential candidate. Iseman and McCain vociferously denied a New York Times story seemingly implying that such was the case, and Iseman filed a libel suit against the paper for running that story. The libel suit was settled without payment in early 2009, with the Times agreeing to print a statement saying that they'd never intended to imply that an affair had taken place.
President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Tom Buffenbarger slammed Obama supporters as elitists in a 2008 warm-up speech at a Hillary Clinton campaign event. He still heads the IAM, and told POLITICO that his critique that Obama was out of touch with working class people may still hold true today.
'We were the invisibles, the working people,
It's doubtful that many people remember her name, but Edith Childs coined one of the most ubiquitous slogans of Obama's 2008 campaign: Fired up, ready to go! Childs scored a trip to the White House in December 2009, and she's still a member of the Greenwood County Council in South Carolina.
Larry Sinclair earned his 15 minutes of fame by posting a video on youtube alleging that he had had drug-fuelled sex with President Obama in a limousine when Obama was still an Illinois State Senator. He later published a book detailing his allegations, 'Barack Obama & Larry Sinclair: Cocaine, Sex, Lies & Murder?' With no proof to back his claims, Sinclair quickly disappeared from the spotlight, but not before POLITICO discovered that he had a 27-year criminal record. His legal issues didn't end there. He was arrested in mid-2008 on outstanding fraud charges in Delaware, and is still fighting a $30 million defamation suit stemming from his video's allegations.
John McCain's decision to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 didn't just vault the former Alaska governor to national notoriety, it made her family celebrities by proxy. Last year, the Palins landed a reality TV show about their lives in Alaska. Eldest daughter Bristol Palin went on to appear on Dancing With the Stars, and recently released a memoir. As for Sarah Palin, she's finishing out a national bus tour and teasing a potential presidential bid.
Levi Johnston also gained his celebrity status through his association with Sarah Palin, having fathered a child with Palin's daughter, Bristol. He and Bristol broke off their engagement after the 2008 election, only to get engaged once more, and then ultimately separate once more as well. He posed semi-nude for Playgirl in late 2009, and announced last year that he will run for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. He is also working on a tell-all book about the Palins.
Rielle Hunter was a campaign worker for presidential hopeful John Edwards when The National Enquirer broke the story that the two had had an affair, and that Hunter was pregnant with Edwards' child. Edwards is currently defending himself against charges that he violated federal election laws by using campaign money to support Hunter. As for Hunter, she too is embroiled in a legal dispute; she's engaged in a civil case with former Edwards aide Andrew Young over an alleged sex tape of herself and Edwards.
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