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Politics

Bobby Jindal Looks to Reverse his Political Fortune with Speech to AFP in Orlando

July 21, 2013 - 6:00pm

With buzz growing that he could be running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana will be speaking to conservatives at an event in Orlando as he tries to get his once-promising national political ambitions back on track.

Late on Friday, the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Foundation announced Jindal will be speaking at its Defending the American Dream Summit in Orlando at the end of August.

In his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association and as the recently re-elected governor of Louisiana, Governor Jindal has emerged as one of the nations most influential voices in promoting the American dream to all Americans, Jillian Weleski, an event organizer for the AFP Foundation wrote in an email. Since being elected the first Indian-American governor in our nations history, Governor Jindal has stood up for economic freedom and opposed unnecessary government expansion. Recently, Governor Jindal refused to allow Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Louisiana while fighting to abolish the state income tax and has successfully cut taxes six times, returning over $1 billion to the citizens of his state. Theres no doubt Governor Jindal will be an important voice for the cause of freedom for many years to come.

Jindal joins two U.S. senators who could be running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 -- Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. Other speakers at the event include U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., conservative pundits Greg Gutfeld and Michelle Malkin, and Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute.

But Jindals rising star is starting to flicker in Louisiana. While he cruised to an easy victory for a second term in 2011, Jindals poll numbers have tanked in recent months as his plan to phase out the state income tax and raise sales taxes went nowhere with Republican legislators and Louisiana voters. Jindals conflict with U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., for control of the Republican Party has also garnered national attention including a piece last month in The New Republic which finds Jindal is losing that fight.

Jindal is also not doing well in the early 2016 polls. Despite coming from neighboring Louisiana, Jindal was only backed by 2 percent of Texas Republicans in a Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll released last month. A Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll from earlier this month of Iowa, which holds the first presidential caucus, finds Jindal in the back of the pack with 2 percent.

This has not been Jindals first time on the national stage. While there was speculation that Jindal would be John McCains running mate in 2008, his first real national exposure came the following year when he offered the Republican response to Obamas first State of the Union address. Jindals speech earned him harsh reviews from pundits across the political spectrum but he would go on to win a second gubernatorial term in 2011. Jindal was also considered a potential vice presidential candidate in 2012 but lost out to Paul Ryan.

The son of immigrants from India, Jindal headed up the state Department of Health and Hospitals in Louisiana during the 1990s and helped turn the Pelican States Medicaid program around, pulling it out of a $400 million deficit in three years. He also tackled Medicare, leading a bipartisan national commission studying ways to ensure that the federal program could remain solvent in the future. Jindal served two years in President George W. Bushs administration as an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for planning and evaluation, a post he resigned to run for governor in 2003.

While Jindal lost the gubernatorial election, he bounced back the next year to win a congressional seat. During his tenure in Congress, Jindal moved up to the leadership, serving as an assistant whip and serving as vice chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attacks. Jindal also serves on the Homeland Security and the Education and the Workforce committees, giving him some credentials on issues where Romney has less experience. After winning re-election to Congress in 2006, Jindal would run for the governorship in 2007 and this time would walk away with the prize.

But Jindals numbers have dropped and recent polls have found his approval at less than 40 percent in Louisiana. Only 42, Jindal hopes to be on the national political stage for a long time and his speech at the AFP event could help him rebound from his current difficulties or accelerate his downward spiral.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at 904-521-3722.

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