"What we need to be looking for is leaders."
Yesterday, the 6th District candidates for House of Representatives debated in front of a live audience at Holiday Inn in Harrisonburg. Although not televised, the debate was broadcast on WSVA radio. Below is the opening question as posted on NBC29. You can find other pop up videos of parts of the debate here.
From the beginning of the discussion the incumbent, Bob Goodlatte was on the defensive. With public approval ratings of Congress hovering about 15% and the economy tanking, Goodlatte struggled for answers by falling back on the old talking points from the past. Both the Democrat, Sam Rasoul, and a little known independent, Janice Lee Allen, pummeled Goodlatte for lack of leadership and being part of the problem in Washington.
Goodlatte's face visibly reddened when he was reminded of his promise to step aside after six terms. He sort of stammered about believing in term limits but said when no amendment was put in the Constitution he as just doing the same as others in Congress. Excuse me, congressman, I don't recall your pledge, your moral obligation, being you'd only limit the number of terms if there was a constitutional amendment binding everyone. No, you made this a personal promise that you've now broken several times. Overheard in the audience - "your honor, I'm not guilty of speeding because everyone else does it." Mr. Goodlatte, we hold our elected representatives to a higher standard.
Goodlatte and Rasoul sharply differed on health insurance reform. Rasoul supports a federally supported health system of private health insurance. Goodlatte tried to defend himself by saying he wanted to assure accessibility for those who can't afford it - so tell us again, why did you vote against the children's health insurance program earlier this year?
A few impressions (some overheard):
Sam Rasoul is smart and has the potential for leadership in Congress. He may not have all the answers, but he will seek out pragmatic solutions to problems facing the American people. And he will honor his promise to step down after five terms.
Bob Goodlatte seems tired and locked in by his blind allegiance to the failed Bush policies and the tired GOP mantra. One person commented that he looked worn down and ready to retire from public life. It was clear to many why he's resisted debates, especially televised ones.
Janice Lee Allen. Hum. What to say? Flaky. Vague. Half-baked ideas. Don't know why she is running. Don't think she does either.
Links to news coverage of the debate: