From touting his education package to offering federal health care solutions to defending gun rights, Gov. Bobby Jindal used an Aspen Institute event Wednesday night to tackle national issues.
The Aspen Institute panel discussion was one of the few events on the governor’s calendar in the next few days that is open to the public. While in Colorado, his schedule includes meeting behind closed doors with other prominent Republicans before flying to Washington, D.C., for more meetings.
For a $15 admission price, the public could grab a seat on the Aspen Institute’s campus Wednesday night to listen to a panel discussion featuring Jindal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The talk was broadcast on Aspen’s public radio station and was streamed on the Internet.
Moderating the hour-long discussion was the Aspen Institute’s president and CEO, Walter Isaacson, who is a New Orleans native.
The Washington, D.C., institute is an educational and policy studies organization that holds seminars, policy programs and public conferences.
Jindal apologized several times for talking fast during the event, explaining that he wanted to fit in several points. Christie ribbed him for his bullet-point approach.
The event was billed as a conversation. It offered the leading GOP governors an opportunity to touch on education, health care, gun rights, abortion and immigration.
Jindal rapidly described the changes he successfully proposed for Louisiana’s public school system, racing from teacher tenure to the scholarships that use public dollars to send children to private or parochial schools.
“Basically vouchers,” Isaacson interjected to put a new name to the scholarships.
“We call it scholarships. The teacher unions call it four-letter words,” Jindal retorted.
Jindal told the Colorado crowd that efforts are under way in Louisiana to recall him and House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles. He said what is important is that opportunities improve for children.
“I’m very proud of what we’re doing in Louisiana,” he said.
Later in the discussion, Jindal offered his alternative solution to the federal health care legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama. Jindal’s ideas included tax advantages for small companies, insurance pools, tort reform and portable electronic records.
Isaacson gave Haley and Jindal — two governors whose parents were born in India — the opportunity to apply their ancestry to immigration issues. Only Haley responded.
She said her parents immigrated to the U.S. the right way by doing it legally. She said the U.S. needs to crack down on illegal immigrants.
“Border control is not just not every time someone crosses the border, hitting a clicker and saying, ‘There went another one,’ ” Haley said.
Once the opportunity to ask questions opened to the audience, a query quickly arose about gun rights. Colorado was the scene of a deadly shooting spree at a movie theater.
Jindal lamented the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to allow Louisiana to put to death convicted child molesters. He said his point was that justices can spend time on that issue yet refuse to read the Second Amendment.
Jindal said authorities should crack down on criminals instead of disarming law-abiding citizens.
Christie put it a different way. “Please have the funerals for the dead first before you start lining up the bills in Congress,” Christie said.