Jindal getting veep mentions
As unseen as Gov. Bobby Jindal has been around the State Capitol during the month of May, his name has been run up the flagpole quite a bit as the possible running mate for likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi, praised Jindal on Tuesday during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” Barbour said the day before on the CBS Morning News that Jindal is “smart as whip, but it’s way too early to be asking that question.”
For commentators, it’s never too early to speculate.
During the month of May several bloggers, Fox News, The Jewish Star, CNN Political Unit, CNN Starting Point, Agence France Presse, The Christian Newswir,e even something called The Oregon Catalyst, have all trotted out Jindal as a possible GOP vice presidential candidate.
Jindal, who spent much of the month traveling to Republican Party events in other states, won’t agree to a direct interview, but in a prepared statement he repeated his line about having the job he wants as governor.
His chief political strategist, Timmy Teepell, said the Jindal camp is not pushing to have his name mentioned in the veep sweepstakes.
“No calls were made,” said Teepell last week, adding it’s too early to discuss possible vice presidential candidates.
Jindal has many attributes that pundits say would help the ticket: youth, ethnicity and conservative Christian support. He’s a technocrat successful at turning an ideological agenda into law.
“It’d be presumptive to assume the criteria Gov. Romney is looking at,” Teepell said. “The most important criteria is that whoever the person, it is someone Gov. Romney is most comfortable with.”
Teepell is the architect of Jindal’s successful runs for governor, his former chief of staff and now a partner with the political consulting group OnMessage Inc., in Alexandria, Va. Teepell and most of his partners in the company worked for Barbour when he led the Republican National Committee, called the RNC.
On Tuesday, Grover Norquist and Patrick Gleason, of Americans for Tax Reform, wrote a column in Politico.com and listed Jindal’s recently enacted public school overhaul as a reason for Romney to tap Jindal as “a wing man.” Their article touched off a wave of opinions on cable television and websites during the following days, including former RNC head Michael Steele saying Jindal would “round out” Romney.
Norquist and Gleason pointed to Jindal’s success at pushing through legislation that opens the door to more vouchers and charter schools. Republicans have long dreamed of these expansions of privatization into the realm of public schools but few GOP governors have been successful at delivering them.
Norquist and Gleason also credit Jindal for balancing the budget, which the Louisiana Constitution requires and which wasn’t that hard to accomplish until recently, when the governor accelerated the giveaways to corporations.
Norquist is most famous for his tax pledge, to which government officials and candidates, mostly Republicans, sign that they will never, ever back a tax increase, regardless of the circumstances. Nearly 70 Louisiana candidates and legislators signed the pledge going into the 2011 elections. If ever in doubt, Jindal last year proved his bona fides when he rejected the renewal of part of a sales tax on cigarettes that 70 percent of the voters in the Oct. 22 election chose to renew.
Jindal’s achievements are ideological, as state Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans, pointed out repeatedly during debates last week about yet more tax breaks and outright grants to corporations in the name of economic development.
Jindal argues that government largesse for private businessmen eventually will translate to the jobs that will lift Louisiana out of a grinding poverty that has haunted the state since the Civil War. But supporting that position generally requires extensive parsing and spinning of obscure statistics by his Harvard-educated Department of Economic Development secretary, Stephen Moret.
In a May 2 column for CNN, David Frum talked down U.S. Sen. Mario Rubio, R-Florida, the often-suggested challenger to Jindal’s choice should Romney go outside the cadre of middle-aged white males whose names are being bandied about. Frum wrote that, as a symbol, Jindal would be a “doozy” of a choice.
Mark Ballard is editor of The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.