Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal became the 13th Republican to announce his candidacy for President. He made his announcement speech on June 24, 2015 at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, Louisiana.
He took one sentence of five words to introduce himself, “My name is Bobby Jindal” and in his second sentence he announced his candidacy. “I am governor of the great state of Louisiana, and I’m running for President of the greatest country in the world, the United States of America!”
His opening two sentences provide some insight into Jindal’s approach. He doesn’t waste words, gets to the point, and goes to work.
Jindal told of his parents coming to America 44 years ago. He referred to America as a legend and an idea. He borrowed a phrase from the late Dr. Martin Luther King, “content of your character, not the color of your skin.”
“They left their home on the other side of the world to come to a place called America. They had never seen it. There was no internet to search, but they had heard the legend. There was a place in this world where people were free, and the opportunities were real. They weren’t really coming to a geographical place. They were coming to an idea, and that idea is America. To them, America represented all that was good in the world, where you could get ahead if you worked hard and played by the rules. A place where what matters is the content of your character, not the color of your skin, the zip code you were born in or your family’s last name.”
Jindal said that his family discovered that, “when they got here they found that the legend was true. They found that the people of Louisiana accepted them and they found America is indeed the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
He moved immediately in to describing what he inherited when he became governor after Hurricane Katrina. The economy was in a downward spiral, the city of New Orleans was devastated, and the population of the state had decreased every year for the past 25 straight years. Jindal summarized the condition and what had to be done.
“Louisiana was in big trouble. So we had to make big changes. We had to believe in Louisiana again, and that is exactly what we did.”
He listed the actions that he took which included a reform of ethics laws, taking Louisiana from one of the worst states to one of the best in the nation. He privatized the state hospital system. In the area of education he pointed to New Orleans as having nearly 100% Charter Schools and now statewide school choice. “Instead of a child following the dollars, we made the dollars follow the child, because we trust the parents, not the bureaucrats to make the best decisions for their kids.” He shrank the government, cutting the budget by 26% and cutting the number of government bureaucrats by more than 30,000.
He then described the result of his leadership in Louisiana.
“Today, we have more people moving into Louisiana than out of it; our highest population in history. Our kids are coming home. And now, we have more people working than at any time in our state’s history, with the highest incomes in our state’s history. A job for your family; a paycheck in your mailbox; they’re the ultimate proof that your state is doing things right.”
Jindal positioned himself as a candidate running against the “big government” crowd. He contrasted his focus on growing the economy against the focus on growing government.
“The big government crowd, they hate what we have done. They say that we have cut the government more than anyone. The government budgets are always running low on funds with me in the Governor’s office. My response to the big government crowd is simply this. Yes. I am guilty as charged and our state is better off for it today.
It’s time for the folks in Washington to admit the truth. You can’t grow the economy and the government at the same time. It is an either/or choice. Hillary Clinton, she wants to grow the government in Washington. We want to grow the real economy out here in America. Here’s the key difference. Democrats evaluate success in terms of the prosperity of government. We define success in terms of the prosperity of our people.”
He then contrasted himself with other Republicans in the race.
“My approach is different from most of the other people running for president. The United States of America was made great by people who get things done, not lots of talk or entertaining speeches. Oh, to be sure, there are a lot of great talkers running for President already, but none of them, not one can match our record of actually shrinking the size of government.
If great speeches helped our country, we’d be on easy street right now. The guy in the White House today, he’s a great talker. We have a bunch of great talkers running for President. We’ve had enough of talkers. It is time for a do-er. I’m not running for President to be somebody. I’m running for President to do something.
Oh it’s easy to talk about the mess that Obama has made of our country. Every American knows about it. Every Republican candidate talks about it. That’s not even half of what we should expect from our next President. We owe voters more than just a tirade about the problem. We owe them honesty about our solution. I will do the things that you cannot do in Washington. I will say the things you cannot say.”
Prior to being elected Governor of Louisiana, Jindal served in the US House of Representatives for two terms. He said that he knows how it works in Washington.
“I served two terms in congress. I can tell you how it works in Washington. If you want to be with the cool kids, you want to be liked by the media, if you want to be invited to the right cocktail parties you have to accept there are things in Washington you just cannot do.”
He gave of list of the things that Washington insiders say that “you just cannot do.” They include reducing the size of government or the number of bureaucrats and reducing the $18 trillion national debt. He continued on with Social Security and Medicare, term limits, securing the borders, repeal and replace Obamacare.
Jindal then presented a pointed summary of the perception of the Republican Party by many conservatives today.
“Today’s Republican party in Washington, D.C., has been beaten into submission. It is increasingly afraid to speak the truth. It’s time to say what everybody’s already thinking. The emperors in Washington, they’re not wearing any clothes.
In case it’s not clear by now, I am running for President without permission from headquarters in Washington, D.C. Rest assured; I am tanned, rested and ready for this fight.
Here’s the truth about most politicians. They’re selfish. They’re followers, not leaders. They worry more about their own fate than the country’s fate. They take polls; they figure out where the public is headed. They run out front, they pretend to be leading the parade. It’s easy to be a popular politician. Don’t rock the boat. Kiss a bunch of babies, cut ribbons, don’t make big changes, but I’m not going to take the easy way out.
If you want somebody who is just going to pretend that everything is fine, just make some small tweaks, then you want somebody else. I’ll make this promise to you; I will never lead from behind. — I will never lead from behind.”
The religious conservatives are a sizeable constituency in the Republican Party. In a crowded field of candidates, gaining the support of this constituency will be vital to winning the nomination. Jindal talked about his faith and the importance of faith in the Oval Office.
“I know some believe I talk about my faith too much but I will not be silenced. I will not be silenced in order to meet their expectations of political correctness. They don’t seem to accept that idea you can be both intellectual and Christian. They can’t fathom the notion you can be both smart and conservative. They need to get out more.
There’s a big country out here with millions of Americans who believe in God and are not ashamed to say so. I’d be wary of a President who didn’t seek wisdom from the Almighty. I don’t know about you. I’ve met many smart people who lack wisdom, yet Christianity; it is under assault today in America.
The liberals, they have forgotten their history. Religious liberty is not some quaint notion from the past. It is fundamental to our freedom. That’s why there’s protection in the First Amendment to the Constitution. I’m going to say this slowly so even Hillary Clinton can understand this. America did not create religious liberty. Religious liberty created the United States of America.”
He criticized Hillary Clinton for dividing Americans into groups of ethnicity, gender, and economic status. Making a transition to discuss immigration he said, “I am done with all this talk about hyphenated Americans. We are not Indian-Americans, African-Americans, rich Americans or poor Americans. We are all Americans.”
He addressed immigration from a traditional perspective of immigration and used Europe as a warning, “where they have second, third generations of immigrants who refuse to embrace the values and culture of the countries they have moved into. We must not let that happen here.” He said that it is not an unreasonable demand to require that immigrants come here legally, embrace the values of the United States, learn English, and get to work.
Jindal turn back again to address the perception of Republicans. He took a swing at Jeb Bush as an example of why Republicans lose.
“Let’s actually tell the truth about our political situation. That’s right, it is a mess. Republicans must stop being afraid to lose. If we try to hide who we are again, we will lose again.
You’ve heard Jeb Bush say that we need to be willing to lose the primary in order to win the general election. We’re going to help him do that. Let me translate that. I’m going to translate that political speak into plain English.
What Jeb Bush is saying is that we need to hide our conservative ideals, but the truth is if we go down that road again, we will lose again. Let’s do something new. Let’s endorse our own principles for a change. Let’s boldly speak the truth without fear.
As Republicans, we’ve already tried to appease the left. To make the media like us better, to talk in politically correct language, to hide some of our beliefs by calling them distractions. We’ve tried to mask our conservative ideals, and we have failed.
Every Republican will tell you they are for school choice, shrinking government, cutting the government workforce, and getting rid of common core. But talk is cheap. Talk is just talk. I haven’t just talked about these things; I’ve actually done these things. Every Republican will say they will fight to protect the unborn, repeal Obamacare, secure the border and destroy ISIS. I won’t simply talk about these things; I will get these things done.”
Jindal turned his attention back to Hillary Clinton and the overall direction of the nation under the Democrats. He put it in visionary terms that related back to what brought his parents to America in the first place.
“It’s time to level with the American people. This President and his apprentice in waiting, Hillary Clinton, are leading America down the path to destruction; economically, culturally, and internationally.
For the most devastating thing they try to do, is redefine the American dream. Instead of their dream being to have opportunity and freedom to control your own destiny, to make your own way, their dream is for the government to take care of you, to make people dependent on the government.
We want to guarantee equality of opportunity. They want to guarantee equality of outcomes. Simple fact is, they are trying to turn the American dream into socialism.
Now the folks in Washington, they may call that the American dream. Out here in America, in the real world, we call that the European nightmare.
To be clear, we’re not simply trying to reclaim the past. No, quite to the contrary, we are laying our claim on the future, a future where America leads the world. This is not a pause any of us can resist. It is our destiny. It is our mission. As America goes, so goes the world. We are the light of freedom in a dark world. It’s time we started acting like it.”
In the area of foreign relations, he said that he would not be intimidated from talking about the evil of radical Islam. He said that America needs to play to win, all the time. Obama and Clinton have it wrong, he said. “Our allies need to trust us. Our enemies need to fear us. It is time we play to win again!”
Jindal came to the end of his speech laying out four specific objectives in bullet point fashion:
“As President, I will have four objectives. I will secure our borders. I will replace Obamacare with a health care system that focuses on reducing cost and restoring freedom. I will grow the private sector economy by shrinking the size, scope and reach of the federal government. And, I’ll rebuild America’s defenses and restore our standing on the world stage.”
He closed with a call for belief and action. It was a call to join a cause, not just support a candidate in an election.
“I’m not asking you to simply join my campaign. I’m asking you to join a cause. If you’re looking for a candidate who will politely manage America’s descent into mediocrity, I’m not your man, but if you are chasing a dream, looking for a land where the people are free, and the opportunities are real, I am asking you to believe.
My dad told me as a young child that Americans can do anything. I believed him then, and I believe it now. I know in your heart, you believe it, too. I am asking you to believe again. Believe in what we can do. Believe in what America can do. Thank you. May God bless you. May God bless the United States of America!”
As he closed his speech, the public address system played a song by the Christian group, Casting Crowns. The song’s title was, “Courageous.”
Bobby Jindal is a candidate who brings broad experience that he can highlight on his resume. He is a governor and there are many who give governors high marks as potential Presidential candidates. He also served in the US House of Representatives so he knows how the legislative process works at the federal level.
In addition, he served as a principle advisor to Tommy Thompson, the Health and Human Services Director under President George W. Bush. That gives him experience in a federal bureaucracy. He also served as Secretary of the State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and President of the University System for the State of Louisiana.
When he talks about cutting bureaucracy, he is not just speaking political jargon. He knows the challenges and the entrenched nature of government organizations. He knows how to slay dragons because he has slain a few in his life.
People know of Jindal. His challenge will be to get people to know him, not just know of him. His young age will be a challenge as some will think of him as having plenty of time to serve at some point in the future and therefore not take him as seriously as they might otherwise.
Jindal is clearly competing for the evangelical voter. His emphasis in his announcement speech on his personal faith is a call for that block to get behind him.
He is also competing for the Republican voter who is frustrated with the Republican establishment. He specifically targeted Jeb Bush in his speech as being associated with that establishment. He referred to the Republican establishment as having been “beaten into submission” and said that he did not ask for permission to run.
As one of the later candidates to announce, Jindal has the advantage of observing reactions to strategies of those who had previously announced. His announcement speech proved that he is going to be very outspoken and will not waste words in the positions that he takes.
As with all the other candidates in the race, the opportunity for exposure in the debates will be critical. If Bobby Jindal gives the straight forward answers that demonstrate that he has a grasp on how to really reduce the size of government, get a grip on the deficit, and grow the economy, then he can gain traction and put together a coalition of voters that will make a difference.
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