Goodlatte: It’s not the pizza, it’s the box

bob-goodlatte-afp2Great question from PBS political reporter Mark Shields to Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte today at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. Shields asked Goodlatte, a power broker in the House GOP as the chair of the Judiciary Committee, whether the Republican Party’s recent electoral problems are “the pizza or the box,” that is, the product that the party is offering voters, or the packaging.

Goodlatte’s answer: the box.

“It’s primarily our inability to communicate our message in a variety of ways,” Goodlatte said. “Our message still resonates with a lot of people; we have to figure out how to get it to resonate with more.”

That’s one way to look at it, and to be fair to Goodlatte, he’d be expected to see things that way. After all, he’s virtually Congressman-for-Life as the man representing fire-engine-red Western Virginia. His last two Democratic challengers topped out in the mid-30s; it has to be vexing to him that Republicans anywhere in America have even the slightest bit of trouble.

Put Goodlatte in anything other than a safe, safe Republican district, though, and he’d be hard-pressed to get away with what he had to say on the issues of the day at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

Take, for instance, Goodlatte’s views on immigration reform. Keep in mind that 71 percent of Latino voters supported Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, and that Latinos are making up by far the fastest-growing segment of the electorate.

What does Goodlatte have to say to the Latino demographic on an issue near and dear to its heart? Stand in line.

“We should focus on common ground on legal status,” said Goodlatte, pointedly opposing any path to citizenship.

And then there was this on gun control.

“Given the fiscal constraints we have right now, I’m much more interested in seeing this administration more efficiently using the resources they have,” said Goodlatte on the question of whether or not Congress should appropriate more money for gun-control efforts.

This after saying that he wouldn’t support new efforts to require universal background checks or a ban on assault weapons – in favor of doing a better job enforcing gun-control laws already on the books.

That kind of circular reasoning might work in the Sixth District, but it’s not working for Republicans who can’t just throw red meat, or to borrow from the Mark Shields question, a pretty pizza box at their constituents.

It may very well be the pizza, not to mention the guys like Goodlatte rolling the dough, that is the problem after all.

Column by Chris Graham

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