Since he became governor, it’s been the worst-kept secret in Louisiana politics: Bobby Jindal can’t wait to leave Louisiana and run for president. Despite his boilerplate “I have the job I want” response to early inquiries about his frequent fundraising trips to early caucus and key primary states, Jindal could never plausibly deny his higher ambitions.
So much so that he recently admitted “everybody knows” he is “thinking” about it. Consider that a prelude to “praying over” his decision and “talking it over with his family” before officially announcing the obvious.
In typical Jindal fashion, the rollout of his budding candidacy was tightly scripted and contrived. In late March, Jindal told the Heritage Foundation’s conservative news service, “It’s something we’re thinking about. It’s something we’ll pray about.” In early April, he told an NPR interviewer, “There’s a practical benefit to having governors run for president.”
But even an eternal political optimist like Jindal must admit that he faces a long, uphill climb to win the Republican nomination, let alone the White House. At least a half-dozen other Republicans consistently poll better than he among GOP voters looking to 2016.
Jindal admirers note that he’s still young (he’s 42), and that’s true. He could factor into the next four presidential contests as a candidate or potential candidate — but so could the men who are his current GOP competitors: Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, also 42; Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, 43; U.S. Rep. (and former vice presidential nominee) Paul Ryan, 44; and Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, 53.
For now, Jindal’s best shot at the White House appears to be on the coattails of a GOP presidential nominee as his or her vice presidential running mate. No one officially runs for vice president, of course. You have to start by running for president and distinguishing yourself without alienating the eventual nominee. That’s not easy for a guy whose stock in trade is bashing other politicians.
And that’s the easy part. If the nation (and the national media) ever takes a close look at Jindal, there’s liable to be plenty they won’t like. Here are five key reasons why Bobby Jindal will never, ever be president:
Welcome to Day 4 of my countdown of the top five reasons why Bobby Jindal will never, ever be president. We started on Tuesday with Reason #5 (He's from Louisiana — Duh!) and continued on Wednesday with Reason #4 (He doesn't "look presidential").
Yesterday, we offered Reason #3 (He’s too timid to be a frontrunner, and the GOP loves frontrunners), so now it's time for Reason #2:
He’s not even the choice of the GOP’s right wing. Okay, so Bobby Jindal doesn’t look like Ronald Reagan or run like George W. Bush, and he’s from a state most Americans consider a quirky outpost. He at least is the darling of the Religious Right and the tea party, right?
Jindal trails every other potential candidate that is courting the GOP’s ideologically conservative base. U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, along with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, U.S. Rep. (and former GOP vice presidential nominee) Paul Ryan and Texas Gov. Rick Perry all finished ahead of Jindal in the 2014 CPAC straw poll. Jindal got just 2 percent of the CPAC vote after speaking to the group for 15 uninspiring minutes. That makes him a long shot even for vice president.
Admittedly, the CPAC poll hasn’t been a bellwether for future nominees. How about the Iowa caucuses, then? In that crucial first-in-the-nation caucus state, Jindal didn’t even register a blip on the radar screen in an April poll of likely GOP voters, despite his forays to the Hawkeye State in recent years. In that poll, three potential candidates formed a top tier: Huckabee with 20 percent; Ryan with 19 percent; and Jeb Bush with 18 percent. The second tier consisted of Rubio and Cruz at 9 percent, Paul at 8 percent, Christie at 7 percent and Walker at 6 percent. Trailing the pack was Joe Scarborough at 4 percent, which puts Jindal somewhere at the bottom of (or just below) the third tier.
It's now Day 3 of my countdown of the top five reasons why Bobby Jindal will not be president in 2016, or ever, despite his non-stop campaigning in key caucus and primary states. We started on Tuesday with Reason #5 (He's from Louisiana — Duh!) and continued yesterday with Reason #4 (He doesn't "look presidential").
Now it's time to roll out Reason #3:
He’s too timid to be a frontrunner, and the GOP loves frontrunners. If the definition of boldness is the willingness to risk one’s political capital to pursue the greater good, Bobby Jindal is the opposite of bold. Given the choice between risking his political capital and playing it safe, you can count on Jindal to play it safe every time.
The only time in his six-year-plus tenure as governor that anyone called one of Jindal’s initiatives “bold” was when he pushed a plan to replace Louisiana’s middling income tax with the highest combined state and local sales tax rates in the nation. The plan was hatched by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and endorsed by every conservative think tank in the land, which hardly qualifies it as “bold.” If anything, it was a typical Jindal ploy; it played to the bleachers of the GOP’s most conservative chorus.
Why is this important?
Because you don’t get to the front of the pack by playing it safe. To be a frontrunner, you have to distinguish yourself. You don’t have to commit political suicide, but cheerleading louder than everyone else won’t suffice. You have to swim against the tide sometimes — as a matter of principle, not political expediency. Jindal has never done that, and he’s not likely to start. He just doesn't have it in him.
Consider the men who have captured the GOP presidential nomination in recent decades: Every one of them began the primary season as the frontrunner, and every one of them distinguished himself in some way that was not typically Republican.
Yesterday, I began counting down the top 5 reasons why Bobby Jindal will not be president — not in 2016, not ever. Reason number 5: He's from Louisiana — Duh!
Today I present reason #4: He doesn’t “look presidential.”
Admittedly, this sounds like a really shallow observation, but let’s face it: American presidential elections are basically popularity contests that focus largely on charisma and good looks, with some emphasis on philosophy thrown in for good measure. If voters (including those in party primaries) really focused on qualifications and experience more than appearances and other superficial qualities, Barack Obama would never have beaten Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2008, and John McCain would have soundly defeated George W. Bush for the GOP nod in 2000. There are many other examples.
The importance of “looking presidential” infects both political parties, but let’s focus on the GOP, because that’s where Jindal has to compete. Consider the Republican presidential nominees of the past three decades:
For the past four years, maybe longer, it’s been the worst-kept secret in Louisiana politics: Bobby Jindal can’t wait to leave Louisiana and run for president. Despite his boilerplate “I have the job I want” response to early inquiries about his frequent fundraising trips to early caucus and key primary states, Jindal could never plausibly deny his higher ambitions.
So much so that he recently acknowledged that “everybody knows” he is “thinking” about it. Consider that a prelude to “praying over” his decision and “talking it over with his family” before officially announcing the obvious.
In typical Jindal fashion, the rollout of his budding candidacy was assiduously contrived. In late March, Jindal told the Heritage Foundation’s conservative news service, “It’s something we’re thinking about. It’s something we’ll pray about.”
In early April, he told an interviewer for National Public Radio, “There’s a practical benefit to having governors run for president.” Actually, the real “practical benefit” inures more to the candidates than to the country.
But even an eternal political optimist like Jindal must admit that he faces a long, uphill climb to win the Republican nomination, let alone the White House. At least a half-dozen — sometimes eight or nine — other Republicans consistently poll better than he among GOP voters looking to 2016.
Jindal supporters note that he’s still young, and that’s true. He’ll be 45 in the summer of 2016, which means he could factor into the next four presidential contests as a candidate or potential candidate.
For now, however, Jindal’s best shot at the White House appears to be on the coattails of a GOP presidential nominee as his or her vice presidential running mate. No one officially runs for vice president, of course. You have to start by running for president — and distinguish yourself without alienating the eventual nominee. That’s not easy for a guy whose stock in trade is bashing other politicians.
That’s just the beginning. If the nation (and the national media) ever takes a close look at Bobby Jindal, there’s liable to be plenty they won’t like.
Starting today and continuing through Friday, I’m going to count down five reasons why Bobby Jindal will not be president. I’ll present reasons 5 through 2 on this blog, but you’ll have to pick up a copy of Gambit on Sunday or Monday to read Reason #1.
Here we go:
5. He’s from Louisiana — Duh! We Louisianans love our state, with all of its eccentricities, but the rest of the country thinks of us as America’s crazy aunt in the attic, someone fun to visit but not someone you’d put in charge of the household. Politically, we have burnished our reputation as a cauldron of corruption, a banana republic that somehow attained statehood while America wasn’t looking. That’s hardly the launching pad for a conservative, button-down GOP candidate for president.
Electronic cigarettes are steps away from being prohibited to minors in Louisiana. The currently unregulated industry of e-cigs was targeted by the state Legislature, with bills in the House and Senate for prohibiting their sale and distribution to people under 18.
Senate Bill 12 from state State Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, is the Senate version banning e-cig sales and a number of other alternative nicotine products to minors. Today, it passed the Senate 34-0 and heads to Gov. Bobby Jindal where it's expected to be signed into law. (On Tuesday, it received unanimous approval from the House with a 94-0 vote, and sailed through committees.) Louisiana will join several states, including Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania, with similar legislation. Several other states are pending legislation this year.
Read more about e-cigs in Gambit's preview of the Legislature's tobacco battles.
The Louisiana Legislature has passed a bill from state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, which would require doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges within 30 miles of a hospital. House Bill 388 passed the state House of Representatives in March and passed 34-3 today in the Senate. It now heads back to the House. It has the support of Gov. Bobby Jindal.
State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, attempted to add an amendment that would remove the "arbitrary" 30-mile radius rule. In its place, doctors would have to receive admitting privileges to any hospital with an obstetrics and gynecology section. Morrell said he was concerned that the bill's 30-mile radius excludes many areas throughout the state where "there is no hospital within 30 miles, period," not only making procedures impossible, but could set a precedent for all specialized procedures. The amendment failed 3-34.
Sen. Karen Carter Peterson objected to the bill, calling it a "terrible bill" that "could seriously impede a woman’s ability to something legal in the state, not withstanding your position."
Medical marijuana has been on Louisiana's books since 1991, allowing doctors to prescribe pot to certain patients. But federal law and no state infrastructure for dispensing and regulating marijuana effectively neuters that law, though it remains on the books.
Today, the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare voted to defer Senate Bill 541 from state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Breaux Bridge. That bill deletes the current law and replaces it with a comprehensive means of regulating the prescription of marijuana, including creating a Therapeutic Marijuana Utilization Review Board and coordinating authorities with the state's Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy and the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners. The committee voted 6-2 against the bill. (Sens. Bret Allain, Sherri Buffington, Dan Claitor, Dale Erdey, Elbert Guillory and Ben Nevers voted to defer the bill; Mills and Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb voted against the motion.)
In January, Gov. Bobby Jindal said he would be open to medical marijuana "if there is a legitimate medical need" and under "very strict supervision." That month, the Louisiana House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice met with doctors, criminal justice organizations and reform advocates to discuss the "feasibility and effectiveness" of legalizing weed. Legislature filed several marijuana bills that tackle health and criminal justice reforms. Last week, however, a bill to reduce penalties for marijuana possession was also killed in committee.
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