Romney-Jindal? Louisiana Governor Tears Into Obama

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 16, 2012 3:55 AM
Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

Speculation has already begun on who could end up as Mitt Romney’s running mate and one of the possible contenders showed on Tuesday that he is ready for at least one traditional responsibility of the vice presidential candidate -- namely, the role of attack dog.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana appeared on “America’s Newsroom” on Fox News on Tuesday and tore into President Barack Obama, while doing his best to defend Romney from attacks. With Ron Paul announcing this week that he would stop campaigning in upcoming primary states to focus on picking up delegations at state conventions, Romney is the de facto Republican nominee to challenge Obama in November.

Responding to Obama’s recent ads bashing Romney for his record in the private sector, Jindal looked to turn the attack around and went after the president on the economy.

“This job is too important for on-the-job training,” Jindal said. “In contrast, Mitt Romney has been a successful governor, a successful businessman, he's got the executive experience. But it also goes to a second point: President Obama simply cannot run on his record. The reality is, 23 million Americans unemployed, underemployed, simply have left the work force. President Obama cannot ask the American people 'are you better off than you were four years ago.'”

While Jindal endorsed Rick Perry for the Republican nomination and campaigned for the Texas governor in Iowa and other states, there has been buzz that the Louisiana governor could end up on Romney’s short list.

Despite his youth -- he turns 41 in June -- Jindal does have some experience which could help if Romney chooses him for the ticket.

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 State’s 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. Bush’s 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.

While there was speculation that Jindal would be John McCain’s running mate in 2008, his first real national exposure came the following year when he offered the Republican response to Obama’s first state of the union address. Jindal’s speech earned him harsh reviews from pundits across the political spectrum but he would go on to win a second gubernatorial term in 2011.

While Louisiana is not considered a battleground in November, Jindal offers some balance to the ticket. If named by Romney, Jindal would be the first Indian-American ever and the first member of Generation X on a major presidential ticket. Jindal would also be the second Catholic ever on a Republican ticket and the first one in almost five decades since Barry Goldwater plucked upstate New York Congressman Bill Miller out of obscurity to challenge Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Jindal would also help Romney nail down the votes of social conservatives. The Louisiana governor has a solidly pro-life record and is a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage.

But Jindal has his weaknesses. He wrote an article about an exorcism in the tradtionalist Catholic magazine New Oxford Review that was published in 1994.  Jindal’s record in Congress could also raise doubts on his fiscal conservatism. While he has used the veto pen in Louisiana to cut budgets, Jindal ranked as one of the top earmarkers in Congress in 2007.

While Romney was routed by Rick Santorum in the Louisiana caucus, the Pelican State and its eight Electoral College votes are expected to be in the Republican column come November. Only three times in the last four decades have Democratic candidates carried Louisiana in presidential elections and the two who did -- Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 -- had ties to the South. If Romney is looking to move the needle in some battleground states, Jindal offers little in the way of geographic advantage, though he could help the Republican ticket with younger voters, Catholics and Indian-Americans.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

Comments (1)

10:22PM MAY 16TH 2012
Bobby "Attack Snail" Jindal.

Remember February 24, 2009.

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