Amid the bagpipes and shamrocks at the PLUS Company’s Wild Irish breakfast in New Hampshire on Friday, Gov. Bobby Jindal congratulated “the genius” who invited him to speak at a St. Patrick’s Day event.
“A quick Google image search would reveal that I’m not Irish. Worse than that, I don’t even drink,” the governor said.
The point of the morning was to crack political zingers and raise money for people with disabilities. Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, of Massachusetts, wasn’t on the agenda, but he was on the menu as Jindal and others tore into his decision to run for office in New Hampshire.
“I was hoping to see Scott Brown here today in New Hampshire, or as Scott Brown likes to call it, Massachusetts minus about a million Democratic voters,” Jindal said.
Brown was in New Hampshire on Friday. He ate breakfast elsewhere, prompting U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., to joke that Brown skipped the event because he didn’t want to wear a shirt. Brown, a former model, recently peeled off his shirt to join in an icy water plunge for charity. By announcing his intention of running against a sitting Democratic U.S. senator in the Granite State, Brown was the news story of the day.
However, Jindal made the most of his trip to a state that reels in White House hopefuls. He shared the stage with Ayotte at the breakfast. He delivered the keynote speech at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference. In between the two events, he shoehorned in meetings with business leaders before flying back to Louisiana.
Jindal is using his national nonprofit, America Next, as a calling card for sit-downs with the wealthy and influential. Those meetings could be financially and politically beneficial if he decides to seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
A day before heading to New Hampshire, the governor announced the creation of a political action committee, or a PAC. The stated objective is to raise money that would be used to help conservative candidates win election to Congress. Contributions would pay for Jindal’s airfare and hotel rooms as he zips around the country. A PAC also has been a prerequisite since Ronald Reagan’s days for a serious White House bid.
Jindal took on the speculation about his political future during his remarks at the Wild Irish breakfast. Clips of his comments were posted on YouTube.
“A lot of people are asking me if I intend to run for president in 2016. The answer is I have no plans at this time to run. I’ve made that clear, and I will come here again and again to the state of New Hampshire to make that clear,” the governor said.
New Hampshire is a revolving door of White House hopefuls because it hosts the first of the national primaries.
Jindal borrowed quotes from former U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin and former Gov. Edwin Edwards to generate laughter at the Wild Irish breakfast. He lifted Tauzin’s line about Louisiana being a state in which half the state is under water and the other half is under indictment. Then he moved to Edwards, who is expected to announce a congressional run Monday.
Now 86, Edwards remains one of Louisiana’s most colorful political figures. He served four terms as governor and served time in prison for racketeering charges. He married his third wife, Trina, in 2011 and later welcomed a baby, Eli.
The crowd at the Wild Irish breakfast laughed when Jindal shared Edwards’ observation upon marrying the decades-younger Trina Edwards. Edwin Edwards famously quipped: “You’re only as old as the woman you feel.” After the laughter died down, Jindal admitted that his own wife didn’t think that line was funny. The Jindals are more matched in age than the Edwardses.
Jindal and his wife, Supriya, went to high school together.
Jindal also paid tribute to New Hampshire’s own colorful politics, expressing puzzlement over the outrage that ensued after a state representative allegedly ran over a group of ducks in his BMW.
“Back home in Louisiana, we would just call that dinner,” the governor said.