Bobby Jindal Presidential Bid Underway
A long profile in today’s WaPo extolling Bobby Jindal as the Republican Party’s best hope to regain the White House may constitute the unofficial start of Campaign 2012. It’s about time.
Last weekend, 18 days after Barack Obama decisively defeated their candidate for president, a mostly Republican crowd of self-described conservatives received their first introduction to someone many prominent members of the GOP think could be the party’s own version of Obama.
Like the president-elect, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is young (37), accomplished (a Rhodes scholar) and, as the son of Indian immigrants, someone familiar with breaking racial and cultural barriers. He came to Iowa to deliver a pair of speeches, and his mere presence ignited talk that the 2012 presidential campaign has begun here, if coyly. Already, a fierce fight is looming between him and other Republicans — former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who arrived in Iowa a couple of days before him, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is said to be coming at some point — for the hearts of social conservatives.
When one reaches the point of being seriously considered for the presidency of the United States, it’s long past time for academic credentials to have moved to the bottom of the resume. Jindal is a sitting governor who ran his state’s health and university systems and served in Congress; his successful undergraduate career is now a footnote.
Jindal insists he is ignoring all the speculation. In Cedar Rapids, at a breakfast event devoted to addressing this beleaguered city’s efforts to rebound from its disastrous flood last summer, he avoided any reference to 2012, staying focused on explaining Louisiana’s methods for coping with hurricane floods in emergencies on his watch.
It has been said that no politician travels to Iowa unless they’re running for president. Certainly, not from Louisiana.
No less an aspiring kingmaker than Steve Schmidt, the chief strategist of McCain’s failed presidential bid, sees Jindal as the Republican Party’s destiny. “The question is not whether he’ll be president, but when he’ll be president, because he will be elected someday.” The anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist believes, too, that Jindal is a certainty to occupy the White House, and conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh has described him as “the next Ronald Reagan.”
Jindal’s rise has indeed been meteoric and I do believe the next Republican president will be a youngish governor rather than a geriatric senator. But timing is everything. The best nominee might not be able to beat Obama in 2012 if things are looking up — and anyone might be able to knock him off if the economy is still in a slump.