NEW YORK -- Samuel Wurzelbacher, the Ohio man hailed as "Joe the Plumber" by Republican John McCain's presidential campaign last year, said he believes gays are "queer" and said he won't allow them near his children.
Nevertheless, Wurzelbacher said the decision about whether to allow same-sex couples to marry should be left to states.
"People don't understand the dictionary -- it's called queer," Wurzelbacher told Christianity Today in an interview published this week. 'Queer' means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we're supposed to do -- what man and woman are for."
He added, "I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they're people, and they're going to do their thing."
Wurzelbacher, regarded as a folk hero to many conservatives after challenging then-Democratic nominee Barack Obama about his tax policies, said neither political party was sufficiently Christian.
"They use God as a punch line," Wurzelbacher said of Republicans. "They use God to invoke sympathy or invoke righteousness, but they don't stay the course."
Wurzelbacher said he considered McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, one of the GOP's emerging stars. But he said the party would have a difficult time recasting its image to appeal to younger voters.
"You got the RNC talking about repackaging principles and values to make them hip and cool to the younger generation," Wurzelbacher said. "You can't repackage them. They are what they are. You can't make what they are."
Since the election, Wurzelbacher has spoken at conservative rallies around the country and traveled to Israel as a rookie reporter to cover the Gaza conflict.
Wurzelbacher told the magazine he might consider running for office someday.
"Not right now," Wurzelbacher said. "God hasn't said, 'Joe, I want you to run.' I feel (it's) more important to just encourage people to get involved, one way or another. If I can inspire some leaders, that would be great."