For a group still technically in the majority, the House Republicans seem to be in pretty low spirits over here in Williamsburg Va., at their annual retreat. They are here for three days of events with uplifting titles such as “What Happened and Where Are We Now,” “Turning it Around,” “Using Adversity to Our Advantage by Working Together,” and “Sailing Above Rough Seas.”
Whether the sessions are truly as dour as they seem is somewhat hard to know, as the about 40 members of the press have been relegated to one room in a separate building (we were told we could only leave to eat, drink, or use the restroom), but the occasional member of Congress has held short Q&As and the takeaway seems to be this: It gets better.
“Redistricting was a blessing for us,” said Rep. Greg Walden, who runs the committee to get Republicans elected to the House. His point was that going forward there are about 191 seats that, no matter what, will likely stay in GOP control. Regardless of how low they are polling, things are going to be OK for House Republicans.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to pick up some new voters. Walden noted that there are 50,000 young Hispanics who reach voting age each month, and that the GOP would be best at trying to get some of their votes.
“We recognize that Republicans have good answers, we just have bad communications in many cases,” he said.
Unfortunately for Republicans, they may not be off to the best start with that process here in Williamsburg. Tomorrow morning there will be a discussion of “Successful Communication with Minorities and Women,” but three of the four members listed (Reps. Adam Kinzinger, Scott Rigell, and Frank Wolf) are white men.
To make matters worse, the event is being held in a place called the “Burwell Plantation.” When asked by a reporter if it seemed appropriate to have a discussion about communication with minorities in a place named after a slave owning family, Walden demurred.
“I don’t pick the rooms we meet in,” he said. “I pick the Democrats that we are going to take down.”