Bobby Jindal Brands Himself as a Republican Reformer

The speech Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gave Thursday to a gathering of Republican party leaders, released in advance by his office, was organized by Roman numerals. I. America is not Washington. II. How we win the argument. III. How we win the election. IV. Conclusion. Jindal's delivery resembled that of a nervous student rushing through an oral recitation of a term paper. The audience was as distracted as a room of high school classmates.
Which raises the question: Can a fast-talking, brainy policy wonk be elected president? Because even though Jindal told reporters after the speech that "any Republican who's thinking of running for president needs to get his head examined," it's clear the governor has 2016 in his sights. He's currently serving as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a frequent launching pad to a national campaign, and on Thursday, Jindal pitched himself as the guy who can lead the GOP out of political exile.

"If this election taught us anything, it is that we will not win elections by simply pointing out the failures of the other side," he said.  "We have to recalibrate the compass of conservatism."  In a pointed jab at his party's Congressional wing, he scoffed at their focus on decimal points and deficit spending in Washington, though didn't propose an alternative for how to balance the budget.

"We seem to have an obsession with government bookkeeping," he said. "This is a rigged game, and it is the wrong game for us to play...We as Republicans have to accept that government number crunching - even conservative government number crunching - is not the answer to our nation's problems."

Jindal is best known for his intellectual chops and zeal for public policy. The Ivy League graduate and Rhodes Scholar led Louisiana's health care agency at 24 and became the youngest-ever president of the University of Louisiana System at 28. As governor he overhauled the public school system, and now he's trying to eliminate the state income tax.

But unlike most of his potential rivals in 2016 - Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul - Jindal lacks that all-important quality on the national stage: charisma. His rushed speech Thursday featuring tirades against the liberal media and Washington served as a reminder that he has not lived down his widely ridiculed rebuttal to President Obama's first State of the Union speech in 2009. And after Mitt Romney's resounding failure to connect with voters on a gut level in 2012, the Republican Party might look for a stronger personality in 2016.


SOURCE: Beth Reinhard
The National Journal
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