On May 10, as members of the Louisiana House of Representatives worked to pass a nearly $25 billion compromise plan for funding health care, higher education and other public services, Gov. Bobby Jindal was spending part of the day in New Hampshire raising money to elect Republican candidates to the New Hampshire state Senate.
Perhaps not coincidentally, New Hampshire is an early key state for presidential candidates.
Jindal has long denied that he is seeking the presidency, but his regular travels to Republican Party functions far beyond Louisiana suggest otherwise.
Jindal had said that any Republican thinking this early about running for president in 2016 “needs to get his head examined.” But Jindal’s presence in New Hampshire at a time when Louisiana faces critical problems speaks volumes about the governor’s priorities.
Jindal told his New Hampshire audience that “we’ve got to present thoughtful policy solutions to the American people . . . not just 30-second solutions.”
But the best way to become a public policy leader is through practice. Since “parking” his state tax overhaul plan for the present legislative session — a proposal that seemed hastily conceived with little input from the general public — Jindal has not seemed willing to advance the constructive compromises that are necessary to address the state budget crisis.
By default, the responsibility for leading consensus on the state’s fiscal challenges has fallen to the Legislature.
Once again, Jindal has seemed more comfortable campaigning than governing. That’s bad news for a state that needs a leader, not a relentless candidate.