Jindal back home -- sort of
For a governor who says he’s got the job he wants, the job he loves, Bobby Jindal spends a lot of time away from it.
Jindal crisscrossed the country this summer to campaign for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and to attend to GOP causes.
Between May and August, the governor visited New Jersey, Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, South Dakota, Utah, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington state, Arkansas, Florida and Colorado.
Even when he was home, the governor shied from the State Capitol press corps. Requests to talk to the governor routinely were met with prepared statements, instead of interviews.
His shyness coincided with the speculation that he was flirting with becoming Romney’s running mate, despite initially backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the nomination.
Romney ended the speculation Aug. 11 by asking U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to join him on the GOP presidential ticket.
Jindal quickly issued congratulations and denials that he wants a cabinet job.
“Why would a guy with the best job in the world be looking for another one?” the governor said in a prepared statement.
Jindal explained his heavy travel schedule by saying he wants to ensure that Barack Obama is a one-term president.
Days later, Jindal combined state and national politics with a funeral and a fundraiser.
First up was the burial of St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Triche, who died in the line of duty in a LaPlace trailer park.
The governor’s press office alerted news reporters that Jindal would be among the mourners. He also attended a $50,000-per-person fundraiser to benefit Romney.
At the same time, the governor is showing signs that he is once again ready to field questions from Capitol-area reporters.
He recently took a break from his son’s birthday party to talk by phone about his reasons for choosing former aide Tim Barfield as the state’s $250,000-per-year revenue secretary.
Joking that his son still is at the age where he plays with one present before ripping the paper from the next one, Jindal stayed on the line long enough to relate a story about his daughter breaking her nose, reveal his wife’s veto of a potential birthday present for their son and discuss next year’s legislative session.
He was chatty, assuring reporters that his anecdotes would not eat into the time for questions. The point of the impromptu teleconference was to emphasize Jindal’s planned focus on a comprehensive review of the state’s tax code, a review he said required Barfield.
Make no mistake, though, the governor still is entrenched in national politics despite his sudden willingness to chat about state issues.
Within days of Ryan’s selection, Jindal was back on the road for Romney. He is scheduled to spend the weekend in Iowa for a Second Amendment rally .
Asked what Louisiana gains from the governor’s travels, his political adviser, Timmy Teepell, said it is important for voters in other states to understand the issues at stake in the presidential election. He said those issues include energy exploration.
One energy issue that Jindal isn’t rushing to is conveniently close to home. A sinkhole was discovered Aug. 3 in Assumption Parish, resulting in the evacuation of people in 150 homes, briefly threatening nearby natural gas pipelines and preoccupying numerous state workers.
Jindal’s office refused comment on why the governor has not been to the sinkhole. Instead, the governor’s spokeswoman, Shannon Bates, released a list of actions the Jindal administration has taken to contain the massive problem.
“Through the Governor’s orders, agencies have deployed an abundance of resources to the sinkhole area ... He is receiving regular updates,” she said.
Michelle Millhollon covers the governor’s office for The Advocate Capitol news bureau. Her email address is email@example.com.