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Off to the races: Is it the pizza -- or the box?

Mark Shields, the veteran political analyst for PBS, yesterday asked Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), House Judiciary chairman, whether the problem with his party was the “pizza” or the “box.” As First Read reported, Goodlatte responded this way: “It’s primarily our inability to communicate our message in a variety of ways. … Our message still resonates with a lot of people; we have to figure out how to get it to resonate with more.”

Translation: It’s the box.

It’s a view held by many in the party. But Rich Lowry today says it’s the pizza, too. “Republicans should prepare for more discontent,” because they have no leader and it’s the message – not just the messaging – that’s the problem: “At times, it seems as if “we have a $16 trillion debt” is the sum total of the party’s argumentation. When party leaders say that they have to become the party of growth again, the policy they invariably advance to that end … is reducing the $16 trillion debt. This necessary, but hardly sufficient message is almost all we hear from Republicans in Congress, where their majority in the House gives them responsibility without decisive influence.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed yesterday that the Illinois special election, in which he spent $2.5 million to defeat a Democrat with ties to the NRA: "Is it a harbinger of what's to come? I think so."

But Stu Rothenberg’s unimpressed, dismissing the win as one in a heavily Democratic district.

What’s with all the butt talk this week? Karl Rove on why he started a group to take out fringe conservatives: “My posterior was shredded a little bit by donors wondering why we are writing checks for people who then turn around a run such lousy campaigns.”

And this kind of thing just keeps on happening to the GOP: Minnesota state Rep Glenn Gruenhagen (R) said this of being gay: "It's an unhealthy, sexual addiction."

And this: Louie Gohmert (R-TX): "Slavery and abortion are the two most horrendous things this country has done but when you think about the immorality of wild, lavish spending on our generation and forcing future generations to do without essentials just so we can live lavishly now, it's pretty immoral."

ARKANSAS: “The Club for Growth will launch a television advertisement in Arkansas on Friday targeting Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who is up for re-election in 2014,” Roll Call writes.

MASSACHUSETTS: Five candidates qualified for the ballot in the April 30 Senate special election – two Democrats and three Republicans. “According to the Central Voter Registry at the secretary of state’s office, Democratic US Representative Edward M. Markey led the field by day’s end, with 33,799, followed by his rival for the party nomination, US Representative Stephen P. Lynch, whose tally was at 25,104,” the Boston Globe writes. “Former US Attorney Michael Sullivan, using only volunteers, led the Republican field, with 18,812, followed by Cohasset businessman Gabriel E. Gomez, whose count was at 16,937, and state Representative Daniel B. Winslow, at 13,406. Winslow and Gomez paid signature-gathering firms to help their signature drive.”

NEW JERSEY: Ex-Sen. Scott Brown’s holding a fundraiser for Chris Christie in Boston Friday.