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jINDAL

2016 Scouting Report: Bobby Jindal

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Bio:

Born 06/10/71 (43-years old) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana…the son of Indian immigrants, Jindal’s real first name is Piyush, but he gave himself the nickname “Bobby” after the youngest son on The Brady Bunch…originally raised as a Hindu but converted to Christianity (Catholicism) as a teenager…as a young man he had his reasons for conversion published in The New Oxford Review, which is a Catholic publication…graduated with honors from Brown University and then chose the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship (with a focus on healthcare systems) over post-graduate opportunities at Harvard and Yale…while at Oxford he flirted with joining the priesthood…his is one of the faster recent ascents up the political ladder…he was named head of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, as well as its university system, before he turned 30…from there he served in the Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, who also appointed him executive director of the bi-partisan commission on the future of Medicare…lost his first run for governor in 2003…turned around the next year and ran for Congress, and received 78% of the vote…received almost 90% of the vote in his 2006 re-election campaign…returned home to Louisiana to run for governor again in 2007, and he became the first non-incumbent ever to win that office without the need for a statewide run-off…won re-election in 2011 with 66% percent of the vote…The American Legislative Exchange Council gave him its Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award in 2011…married to his wife, Supriya…the couple has two sons and a daughter, who was delivered at home by Jindal himself (with emergency help from a nurse coaching him over the phone).

Strengths:

Has brought reform and good governance to a state notoriously tarnished by corruption for decades…Louisiana has its highest bond rating since 1984, the second-lowest unemployment in the South behind Texas, and he’s cut the state’s budget by 26%…has also been willing to seek big reforms like ending the state income tax (which he eventually dropped for lack of support) and school choice, winning a legal battle with the Obama Justice Department on that issue…has been one of the boldest national voices in the party regarding religious liberty, an increasingly important issue…recently demonstrated some much needed fearlessness and moral clarity while speaking out on the threat of radical Islam…was one of the first governors to listen to the grassroots and refuse to implement Common Core (after initially expressing support for the standards)…healthcare is one of the country’s most important issues at the moment, and arguably no Republican with governing experience knows that issue better…he’s as ready and prepared to govern as any potential 2016 candidate.

Weaknesses:

Needs to make people forget his lackluster response to President Obama’s State of the Union back in 2009, because that’s still the biggest reservation people have about him as a potential national standard bearer…while his resume and intelligence are presidential material, does he have the charisma it takes to capture the imagination of voters in a field full of alpha males…will need to clearly define his thoughts on amnesty: for example, in 2013 he said he backed “comprehensive immigration reform” (usually code language for amnesty) but later that year opposed the “gang of 8” amnesty plan…his record in Louisiana looks attractive at first blush, but obviously will require further investigation when you consider Jindal’s approval rating has plummeted to below 40% since his re-election.

Analysis:

Jindal wants to make the case that among the current and former GOP governors seeking the nomination he’s the one best positioned to unite fiscal and social conservatives. His resume indicates he at least belongs in that conversation, but his lack of popularity at home needs to be fully vetted.

Conclusion:

Jindal is a bit of a anomaly. His stock seems to be rising nationally at the same time it’s declining in his home state. Plus, he’s most at ease communicating with the party’s evangelical base even though he’s a Catholic. He also seems to be finding his groove as a national spokesman, and hitting his stride. He’s someone to keep an eye on as a potential dark horse should candidates like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee falter on the campaign trail.



 

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