Political Horizons for Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013

by mark ballard

mballard@theadvocate.com

Bobby Jindal is nearing the end of his term chairing the Republican Governors Association.

True to form, Jindal’s krewe will spend this week drafting a report that likely will serve as a talking points memo to help reporters remember all the great things he did as leader of the 30 GOP governors.

Thirty-six governor’s races will appear on the ballots next year, and the RGA will compete in most of them.

Jindal won’t be RGA chairman then. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will take the reins this week.

Jindal can say in his report that he helped put in place the theme voters will hear a lot during the next year: Governors are the pragmatic purveyors of conservative solutions.

The lagniappe of using that narrative is that it also serves to distance the Republican governors from their unpopular brethren on Capitol Hill.

One big headline that probably won’t make his talking points memo will be the intense criticism Jindal received from the RGA’s handling of the gubernatorial campaign of Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia.

To be fair, however, Jindal’s RGA was Cuccinelli’s largest donor. And Cuccinelli did things such as invite U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the architect of the federal government shutdown, to speak at a fancy dinner just miles away from where about 170,000 federal workers were puttering around their houses wondering when they would go back to work and get paid again.

Cuccinelli’s campaign focused on attacking President Barack Obama and the Clintons. He spoke very little about local issues, such as how aggressively to fund needed highway expansion and whether the state should back off a little on its stringent ban on gay marriage because of what business leaders call its “chilling effect” on economic development.

It’ll be interesting to see how Jindal’s memo handles his RGA successor.

Both Christie and Jindal are coy on whether they’re running for president, even as each kneels before the various stations on the road to nomination.

Both have made multiple visits to the early primary states of Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire in 2012. Both have been headline speakers at big conservative outreach functions and have been hanging around big-money donors.

Perhaps the best indicator: Both are taking passive-aggressive pot shots at each other.

At an August Republican National Committee meeting in Boston, Christie said, “I’m not one of those people who goes and calls our party ‘stupid.’ We need to stop navel gazing.”

It was taken as a swipe at Jindal who, at a January meeting of the same group, said: “We’ve got to stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.”

When asked about Christie’s remarks while campaigning in South Carolina, Jindal told the Owensboro, Ky., Messenger-Inquirer: “I think it’s important that our party is able to look at ourselves honestly in the mirror.”

In his victory speech on the night of Nov. 5, Christie said, “We just don’t show up in the places that vote for us a lot; we show up in the places that vote for us a little. We don’t just show up in the places where we’re comfortable; we show up in the places where we’re uncomfortable.”

It was another thinly veiled barb. Jindal is known for limiting his public appearances to tightly controlled situations, such as ribbon cuttings that are announced at the last minute.

Last week while making the Sunday morning talk show rounds, Christie was asked about negotiations to allow Iran to continue manufacturing centrifuges and enriching uranium.

He responded, “When guys like me start to shoot off on opinions about this kind of stuff, it’s really ill-advised.”

The next day, Jindal volunteered in a prepared statement saying the deal is bad for the U.S. and Israel: “Reports that a nuclear agreement with Iran have stalled are a positive sign that common sense and security are prevailing.”

It is good to keep in mind that these are politicians.

Remember back in the 1980 primaries when George H.W. Bush called Ronald Reagan’s tax cut promises “voodoo economics”?

Mark Ballard is editor of The Advocate Capitol news bureau. His email address is mballard@ theadvocate.com.