Is Richard Hayes going to be the Joe the Plumber of the 2012 presidential election? If you’ll remember, Joe the Plumber was the conservative activist who was videotaped asking then-candidate Barack Obama about his small business tax policy at a campaign stop and went on to represent middle class America as candidate John McCain railed against Obama’s “socialist” views.

In a new ad created by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Hayes says:

My name is Richard Hayes and I pick up Mitt Romney’s trash. We call it ‘the invisible people.’ He doesn’t realize, you know, that the service we provide, you know, if i wasn’t for us it would be a big health issue, us not picking up trash.

Residents do come out and shake our hands, sometimes they give us hugs and thank us for the job we’re doing, hand us waters and Gatorades. Tells us we’re doing a good job and keep up the god work.

Picking up 15-16 tons by hand, that takes a toll on your body. When I’m 55-60 years old, I know my body’s going to be breaking down. Mitt Romney doesn’t care about that.

The video ends with the placard, “Meet the people who make America happen. Mitt Romney doesn’t care about them.”

Hayes is pictured picking up garbage outside Romney’s house in La Jolla, Calif. And it’s not entirely true that Romney doesn’t know about working as a garbage man. As Charles Cooke of the National Review points out, Romney worked as one during his run for Governor of Massachusetts, where he decided to work a day in several different, mostly blue collar, jobs.

Romney writes in his book “No Apology”:

One day I gathered trash as a garbage collector. I stood on that little
platform at the back of the truck, holding on as the driver navigated
his way through the narrow streets of Boston. As we pulled up to traffic
lights, I noticed that the shoppers and businesspeople who were
standing only a few feet from me didn’t even see me. It was as if I was
invisible. Perhaps it was because a lot of us don’t think garbage men
are worthy of notice; I disagree — anyone who works that hard deserves
our respect.

The AFL-CIO has also created ads featuring a fire engine mechanic and a former garbage truck driver.

What do you think? Will it turn into this election’s Joe the Plumber?

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."