Why Bobby Jindal (still) matters

at 07:23 AM ET, 10/24/2011

Unless you are a huge political junkie, you likely missed the news on Saturday night that Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal won a second term.


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal thanks supporters during his re-election victory party at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge on Saturday. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Michael DeMocker)
It was a marked changed from this time four years ago when Jindal’s victory — he was the first Indian American to win a governorship — drew national headlines and installed him as a major rising star within the GOP.

Despite the relative lack of attention that Jindal’s re-election garnered, it’s worth looking at its breadth — and the way he won it — for signs of what sort of candidate Jindal will be when his time on the national presidential stage comes. (And, yes, it is coming.)

Jindal won 66 percent of the vote in a 10-way primary, the highest victory percentage for any candidate since the state instituted its so-called “jungle primary” in 1978. He won every one of the 64 parishes (they’re Louisiana’s counties).

Jindal’s political domination in the state over the past four years was evident downballot as well, as Democrats failed to field candidates for lieutenant governor or secretary of state.

In his victory speech, Jindal sounded rhetorical themes that could easily be ported into a national campaign sometime between now and 2020. He insisted he wouldn’t talk about what the state had accomplished over the past four years because “that was yesterday, and as Louisianans and as Americans ... we are relentlessly focused on the future, not the past.” (Hello, Ronald Reagan!)

The New Orleans Times Picayune’s Stephanie Grace described Jindal’s victory as a “mandate,” adding that the governor is likely to make major pushes on education and health care reform over his next four years — issues with major resonance at the national level.

“Jindal may be a lame duck in Baton Rouge, but that doesn’t mean his days of positioning himself for the next election are over,” Grace added.

What will be interesting is, with worries about re-election behind him, how forcefully Jindal emerges as a spokesman on the national stage — and what he says and does with the platform afforded him.

In a recent speech at a Republican National Committee gathering in Tampa, Jindal warned his party against the folly of “hating” President Obama.

“I have no doubt that President Obama loves this country, I have no doubt that he spends every day trying to make things better, and I have no doubt that President Obama wants the best for this country,” Jindal said. “I also have no doubt that what President Obama thinks is best for this country is in reality a complete disaster.”

That’s an interesting argument to make to a Republican Party in which large swaths of the base simply do not believe Obama is working to make things better.

Jindal’s might not be a winning argument in 2012. But, he isn’t running for president. Yet.

Biden for president?: Speaking of future presidential candidates, Vice President Joe Biden sounds like he’s thinking about a run in 2016.

Biden, who has run twice before, would be 73 years old on Election Day 2016, but he told CNN’s Candy Crowley in an interview aired Sunday that he’s not foreclosing that chance and that his health wouldn’t be an impediment.

“I’ll make up my mind on that later,” Biden said during a swing through New Hampshire. “I’m in one of the — probably the best shape I’ve been in my life. I’m doing pretty well. I’m enjoying what I’m doing. And as long as I do, I’m going to continue to do it.”

It’s not clear whether Biden would even enter the race as a frontrunner. Despite being picked as Obama’s vice president, he was never a top-tier candidate in the 2008 race.

Romney’s new immigration problem: Expect to hear Mitt Romney’s opponents using this as a cudgel in the days and weeks to come.

The Los Angeles Times reported late Sunday that the health care bill signed into law by the former Massachusetts governor contained a “Health Safety Net” that allowed for illegal immigrants to get necessary medical care.

The law was written for the poor and uninsured, but allowed for care regardless of immigration states, according to the Times.

Given that Romney’s team has been hitting Rick Perry for providing tuition assistance to the children of illegal immigrants, it might be tough to explain why taxpayers should foot the bill for their health care.

Romney could make the humanitarian argument, but even that is tough to make. Expect to hear about this.

Nevada moves caucus date: It looks like we have avoided a 2011 start to the GOP presidential nominating process after all.

The Nevada state GOP on Saturday moved its caucuses from Jan. 14 to Feb. 4, paving the way for New Hampshire to set its primary for Jan. 10. The Granite State had to set its primary for seven days before any similar contest, so there was lots of pressure on Nevada to move its date.

By doing so, Nevada will have early February to itself, as there are only a few non-binding caucuses and a non-binding Missouri primary between Florida on Jan. 31 and Arizona and Michigan on Feb. 28. Nevada also avoids losing half its delegates — a penalty it would incurred had it stayed in January.

The new calendar is expected to look like this:

Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses

Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary

Jan. 21 South Carolina primary

Jan. 31 Florida primary

Feb. 4 Nevada caucuses

Feb. 4-11 Maine caucuses

Feb. 7 Minnesota and Colorado caucuses, non-binding Missouri primary

Feb. 28 Arizona and Michigan primaries

March 3: Washington caucuses

March 6: Super Tuesday

Crossroads runs Spanish-language ad in Nevada: The conservative group Crossroads GPS is going up with a modest ad buy in Nevada as Obama visits the state today.

The $25,000, Spanish-language TV ad is just like an English-language ad the group ran in July, featuring a woman awaking at 3:01 a.m., worrying about her family’s economic future.

The ad will run in the Las Vegas media market on Monday and Tuesday.

Obama’s support among Latino voters has dropped significantly over the last several months, and some are suggesting Republicans could steal some of their support in 2012.

Fix Caption Contest winner: Last week, we asked readers to caption a picture of Romney getting a little touchy-feely with Rick Perry in Tuesday’s debate.

The winner? “What’chu talkin’ bout Willard?” from Fix reader “andrewhennessey.”

So if you’re “andrewhennessey,” make sure to e-mail chris (dot) cillizza (at) wpost.com to claim your Fix t-shirt.

Congratulations, and thanks to all who participated.

Fixbits:

Herman Cain’s campaign says its raising more than $1 million per week. That’s on pace for a frontrunner-quality quarter.

Cue the birther controversy: Perry says he has no “definitive answer” about whether Obama was born in the United States.

After denying the departures, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) confirms two New Hampshire staffers have quit.

Former White House chief of staff and New Hampshire governor John Sununu (R) will back Romney.

Romney isn’t as anti-flat tax as he once was.

Perry goes after Cain on abortion.

Condoleezza Rice’s memoir dishes about her battles with Dick Cheney.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has apparently spent $800,000 on Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) this year, even though he hasn’t committed to running for reelection.

Must-reads:

Mitt Romney reaches out to voters but often lacks the common touch” — Philip Rucker, Washington Post

For Herman Cain, no steering clear of race” — Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post

For Bachmann, a Bid to Reconnect in Iowa” — Trip Gabriel, New York Times

Iowa challenges confront Herman Cain” — Reid J. Epstein, Politico

In Colorado, voter anger clouds 2012 choices” — Dan Balz, Washington Post

Republicans Turn Judicial Power Into a Campaign Issue” — Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear, New York Times

 
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