The Fiscal Times June 13, 2012
If Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is looking for a running mate who is in sync with his education views, he couldn’t do much better than Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Just as Romney is causing waves in public school circles by advocating a voucher-like system to allow low-income parents to use part of a $25 billion federal fund to send their children to any private elementary or high school, Jindal has roiled Louisiana with legislation encouraging the growth of independent public charter schools that divert public school funds to private school tuition for low-income students.
Last month, Jindal, 41, a rising Republican star, served as a surrogate for Romney on TV the day the former Massachusetts governor rolled out his education agenda in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The fact that the Romney campaign wanted Jindal to tout the plan fueled speculation Jindal was strongly in contention for a spot on the GOP ticket.
“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t think highly of Gov. Jindal from the standpoint of conservatives,” Reagan biographer Craig Shirley told The Fiscal Times Tuesday. “He’s put conservatism into practice with the way he’s run Louisiana. He’s brought charter schools to New Orleans, truancy is down, SAT scores are up, and there’s been demonstrable improvement across the board in the schools with reforms he’s brought to Baton Rouge, as well as with budget cuts and tax cuts.”
Jindal’s resume reads like something out of central casting for an up-and-comer in the party: Son of immigrant parents from India, dazzling high school student, Rhodes Scholar, federal and state health and social services administrator, college system president, member of Congress, and finally, governor of a Gulf Coast state that’s weathered brutal hurricanes and a major oil spill.
“The founders hammered home two things when it came to qualifications for vice president: experience and character,” said Shirley. “In terms of experience, Jindal’s been governor of Louisiana longer than Romney was governor of Massachusetts. And I don’t know anybody who doesn’t think Bobby Jindal doesn’t have a sterling character. So, yes, Jindal would be ready to become president.”
Jindal is competing for the spot with some GOP heavy hitters, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. Last week, Jindal, Christie and Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia all spoke effectively at the American Conservative Union’s Political Action (CPAC) Conference in Chicago about winning battles over public sector unions to cut spending, balance budgets and improve states’ fiscal outlook. Jindal minced no words in going after Obama, calling the president “the most liberal, most incompetent president in the White House since Jimmy Carter.”
But Jindal still is trying to live down a disastrous performance in February 2009, when he delivered the official Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address. In a discordant, reedy-sounding delivery, Jindal called Obama’s economic stimulus plan “irresponsible,” and invoked Hurricane Katrina to argue against government solutions to economic crisis.
“Today in Washington, some are promising government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us,” Jindal said in the speech. “Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina, we have our doubts.” Jindal’s comments were met with derisive responses from Democratic and Republican analysts alike. Although FEMA failed big time, Jindal proved to be dead wrong. In 2011, Congress approved $6 billion worth of disaster relief to help victims in Louisiana and other coastal states of both Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Katrina.