While Nebraska’s Republican Gov. Dave Heineman is in Virginia with 25 of the nation’s other governors this weekend, Gov. Bobby Jindal will be winging into the Cornhusker State to stump for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
Jindal’s press office confirmed Friday that Jindal will skip the National Governors Association’s 104th annual meeting in Williamsburg, Va. The meeting’s focus is job creation and economic development.
“The Governor will be addressing the Nebraska Republican Party State Convention in support of Governor Romney on Saturday,” Jindal’s spokeswoman, Shannon Bates, said by email.
Jindal did not respond to an interview request.
Nebraska Republican State Chairman Mark Fahleson said Jindal is a welcome guest, especially since his state’s own governor will be in Virginia chairing the NGA meeting.
“We have had an invitation into Gov. Jindal for quite some time. We’re just delighted that he’s going to be here,” Fahleson said.
The Nebraska convention is pivotal to Romney because delegates will be selected to help pick the GOP presidential nominee at the Republican national convention. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is fighting to wrest Nebraska delegates away from Romney.
Fahleson said Jindal should not worry about missing the NGA meeting since Heineman will be there as the organization’s chairman. He said the NGA will be in good hands despite Jindal’s absence. “It’s an honor to have someone as respected as Gov. Jindal,” Fahleson said.
Jodi Omear, spokeswoman for the NGA, said 26 governors are attending the national meeting in Williamsburg, Va. Heineman is expected to offer suggestions for fostering business growth and ways for states to recover from the national recession.
Jindal’s trip to Nebraska will come a day after the Jindal administration announced $523 million in health care cuts. The reductions are expected to heavily impact public hospitals.
The governor has been hitting the campaign trail for Romney, making recent appearances for him in Pennsylvania and Ohio. On Monday, Romney will be in Baton Rouge to lunch with well-monied supporters.
Political commentators are speculating that Jindal is in contention for the spot as Romney’s running mate.
Pearson Cross, chairman of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette political science department, said it comes as little surprise that Jindal would pick Romney over a national governors’ meeting. He said Jindal seems to be auditioning for the vice presidential spot by showing himself to be committed to defeating President Barack Obama.
“Governors’ conferences of the kind he’s skipping are useful for governors who are concerned about public policy discussions and sharing solutions and networking. But, frankly, all these pale in light of a presidential campaign in which one is a potential vice presidential nominee,” Cross said.