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A Vice President Jindal?

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Thursday, April 10th, 2008
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Well, no.  The new Louisiana Governor is very much in the mix, as more focus took place this week on who Sen. John McCain will pick as his republican running mate. And when you consider the alternatives, and the balance McCain both needs and is searching for, Jindal stands toe to toe with any other candidate being discussed.

First, who’s on the front burner?  Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is at the head of a number of Republican lists following his strong second-place finish in the earlier republican primaries. A leading republican cheerleader for Romney is former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card.  “He’s attractive, he is knowledgeable, he didn’t stumble too many times, so I don’t think that he suffers from foot in mouth disease,” Card says.

  But there are also a number of detractors lining up against Romney.  In a full-page ad that is running in a number of newspapers around the country, leading social conservatives are warning Senator John McCain not to pick Romney as his vice presidential running mate.  As national talk show host and author Greg Jackson (WRKO in Boston) is telling the news media:  “I know Romney to be a very dangerous and deceitful person.  He is the only one to establish abortion on demand for $50 as part of his very own socialist health care plan,” Jackson said, referring to the plan put into place in Massachusetts when Romney was governor of the state. 

Romney also carries the label of a “flip-flopper,” on issues like gun control, abortion and gay marriage.  Simply put, McCain is more liberal on social issues and Romney does very little to shore up the Republican conservative base. Throw into the mix his Mormon religion, and there are just too many downsides for McCain to consider Romney.

How about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice?  Speculation over a Rice candidacy stirred up a good bit over the weekend during a discussion on the ABC program “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”  Fox News analyst Dan Senor, who was a former military spokesman for coalition forces in Baghdad, told the Sunday morning panel that Rice “has been actively, actually in recent weeks, campaigning for this.” (Senor, by the way, just happens to be my son-in-law)

But Rice also has too many negatives.  She is perceived to be an orchestrator of the present Iraq problem.  Even though McCain is strongly supporting the Iraqi occupation, he has continually charged that until recently, the war was woefully mismanaged. A McCain/Rice ticket would be a one- issue ticket: the war. Too much baggage here. And Rice also is pro-choice on abortion, and in support of affirmative action.  Again, this will not set well with the more conservative Republican base that feels McCain is too liberal to begin with.

So just what are the attributes McCain needs to look for in balancing off his ticket?  Let’s make a list:

  1. Youth.  John McCain, of concern to many voters under 50, is perceived to be an old guy.  Now a lot of us don’t think that 71 is all that old, particularly in this day and age.  But there is a perception problem, and needs an easy candidate who is dynamic, vigorous, and much younger.
  2. McCain’s political life has been inside the Washington Beltway.  He needs to add on his ticket a vice presidential candidate who is seen as a Washington outsider.
  3. McCain admits he knows very little about economics, and his lack of business background brings back the Romney campaign quote that many candidates for president were unqualified because they “had not run as much as a lemonade stand.”
  4. McCain still carries a stigma of his recent documented and numerous flirtations with leaving the Republican Party.  He needs a consistent died in the wool Republican running mate who is strongly acceptable to the hard-line conservative block that McCain will never have himself.  Someone who is able to appeal directly and unequivocally to the religious right on their level, particularly on gut issues like being pro-life.
  5. What McCain needs is a complementary running mate, not an identical running mate.  Someone in the fold politically, but also someone who brings a balance for the conservative right that McCain alone cannot offer.

So who is the guy that a number of important conservative voices are touting, and who meets the criteria just listed?  How well does Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal measure up under a republican microscope?

Youth? Obama is middle-aged compared to Bobby Jindal.  To those in Louisiana who have been following his career, he seems to have been around the political scene for many years.  But the 36 year old Governor would bring freshness and energy to the ticket that would both help the McClain ticket, and give the Senator a comparison to joke about on the campaign trail.

A Washington insider?  Jindal did spend three years as a Louisiana Congressman.  But his varied background in running Louisiana’s public health care system as well as its board of colleges and universities gives him enough “hands-on experience” that should overcome the Romney charge of never as much as running a lemonade stand.  As Louisiana’s Governor, he should carry the same “outsider” credentials as Bill Clinton, George Bush, and a host of other governors who were  on a national ticket.

How about his republican credentials?  Just take a look at a cross-section of conservative political commentary from throughout the nation.  A major Republican conservative website: “Conservative activists are swooning over Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Republican, with many claiming that he should be John McCain’s vice president pick, or, at the very least, the keynote speaker for this year’s Republican national convention in September.”

The Wall Street Journal said: “That’s why Mr. McCain’s choice of vice presidential running mate can make or break his candidacy.  This is the time for change, real change.  This is a time for someone whom everybody knows to be the rising star of the GOP, the new Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal.”

How about these comments from the conservative “American Spectator magazine?”  “Mr. Jindal has crammed a lot of legislative and executive experience into a career that is just beginning.  If Mr. McCain wants to prove to conservatives that he means business and not empty words, he could not do better than to choose Mr. Jindal.  Soon.”

And how about the voice of conservative radio, Rush Limbaugh?  His view:

“I’ll tell you…. I’m going to give you a name that would make me jump for joy. Bobby Jindal. I did an interview with Bobby Jindal. He is the next Ronald Reagan, if he doesn’t change. Bobby Jindal, the new Governor of Louisiana is the next Ronald Reagan. He’s young. He was just sworn in for his first term. He’s the guy that beat the liberal Democrat machine throughout Louisiana. He did it on 100% conservatism. This guy could be the next Ronald Reagan. If McCain chose him, here’s a southern state; this is Louisiana. That depends on who they think McCain will need or want, but Jindal is very young, and he’s only in his first year as Governor.”

So there you have it. Strong credentials with an all-out blessing by Rush himself.  It’s not surprising that the Governor is denying any serious interest.  But you can bet he would jump at the chance if the phone call came from the Senator.

Meanwhile, back at the Louisiana state capitol, one guy who is keeping a sharp eye on the VP jockeying is Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu.  Just imagining how his future is affected if there ends up being a Vice President Jindal.  But, hey, that’s a whole different column. Stay tuned.

“There would never be an assassination attempt on me. You know why?
Charles Barkley is going to be my vice president, and rest assured,
nobody is going to shoot me to put Charles in as president.”
– Former Minn. Gov. Jesse Ventura
on his choice for Vice President if he ran for President)

Peace and Justice.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s weekly column appears in a number of newspapers throughout the State of Louisiana.  You can read Jim’s Blog, and take his weekly poll, plus read his columns going back to the fall of 2002 by going to his own website at http://www.jimbrownla.com.

Jim’s radio program on WRNO (995 fm) from New Orleans starts up again this week, with a Sunday show from 11:00 am till 1:00 pm. Other changes will be announced in the weeks to come.

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