DAVENPORT, Iowa — It was a nice crowd that gathered at the marvelous Figge Art Museum here for a Rick Perry town hall. But by the time it was over, it felt more like a Jindal in 2016 rally.
Jindal, the Louisiana governor, endorsed Perry early, and he has loyally stuck to his commitment. He was campaigning for him in Iowa on Tuesday and made an excellent case for Perry. The problem was that Jindal may have made a better case for Perry than Perry made for himself.
Not that there isn’t a certain allure to Perry if your views run his way. Perry speaks with a quiet, coiled-up passion that makes him sound like a rather good preacher, his voice rising and falling as he moves comfortably around the stage. He speaks with fervor about the Constitution — even if his extreme states’ rights interpretation of the document makes him sound far more like John C. Calhoun than Abraham Lincoln. He sometimes seems to be searching for words, which can be effective if you see it as an expression of thoughtfulness but can also be, shall we say, a liability if you remember Perry’s battle with words and his own memory in earlier debates.
If Perry is an acquired taste, the 40-year-old Jindal is a natural, fluent, modern politician. The words flow out of Jindal smoothly as he tells stories about his father’s rules and the joys of cooperating with his fellow governor across the state line in Texas. As the son of immigrants, Jindal is a powerful witness on behalf of the United States as an exceptional nation. Jindal presents himself as an extremely loyal Perry supporter, but you couldn’t help but think as he stood before the crowd that he was contemplating what the experience of campaigning on behalf of himself on a cold night in Iowa might be like. You could tell the crowd was with Jindal during the Q-and-A when one of the first questions to Perry was whether he would invite Jindal to join his Cabinet.
My guess is that Jindal has bigger things in mind than a place in a notional Perry Cabinet.