Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jindal Still in VP Race?

By Jim Brown
Just two weeks ago, the legislative pay raise issue in Louisiana had all but consumed Governor Bobby Jindal. As he continued to tell voters he would not veto the increase that had rallied major statewide opposition, his poll numbers continued to drop. And when he did finally veto the proposal, his delay in doing so seemed to upend any realistic chance of a vice presidential slot on the McCain ticket. But like Lazarus being raised from the dead, low and behold, Jindal is still very much in the VP mix.
There were signs all over the media in the past few days indicating the Jindal is still in the hunt. A profile in this past Sunday’s New York Times Magazine had “America’s anchorman” Rush Limbaugh reaffirming his support of Jindal getting the number two spot. Limbaugh has had Jindal at the top of his list from day one, and apparently the pay raise flap has not caused him to waver.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote a lengthy profile this week in Human Events magazine calling Jindal “the most transformational governor in America today,” and strongly re -affirmed his support for Jindal on the McCain ticket. Gingrich could not have been more effusive. “In just six months, Bobby Jindal has accomplished more than most elected officials accomplish in a lifetime.” Pretty strong stuff from one of the GOP’s most respected spokesman. Gingrich did mention the pay raise flap in passing, but dismissively concluded that “Jindal’s correction has cemented his reputation as a principled conservative reformer.”
CNS News concluded this week that Jindal could be a significant help on a McCain ticket in key swing states. A column posted on July 8 states: “Senator John McCain could win in swing state Ohio under almost every scenario if he chooses Louisiana Governor Bobby gentle as his vice presidential candidate.” In the past three presidential elections, Ohio has been the make- or - break state. According to the national CNS poll, Obama currently leads McCain 48% to 46%. But the poll shows McCain would have the upper hand with Jindal as his running mate. By adding the Louisiana governor to his ticket, McCain beats Obama 44% to 39%. Even if Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is added as the running mate to the Obama ticket, a McCain Jindal team still wins by a two-point margin.
CNN televised a panel of political operatives just a few days ago and each was asked to place their bet on McCain’s pick for vice president. Three of the four panelists selected Jindal. And again remember, all these effusive endorsements came after the pay raise flap.
Even liberal publications like The Nation are throwing accolades at Louisiana’s new governor. In the magazine’s current edition, the pay raise controversy was mentioned and dismissed all in the same sentence. The column concluded: “Never heard of Bobby Jindal? Then pay attention. There’s a good chance he’ll be John McCain’s vice presidential pick.”
So why the sustained drumbeat about Jindal, even though he took such a beating, in Louisiana at least, on the pay raise issue? Key McCain advisers are banking on the fact that the controversy is short term, and really has no legs outside of Louisiana. And they are looking for, and quite frankly needs, a number of the attributes that Jindal brings to the table.
McCain desperately needs something to breathe life into his campaign; something that can excite and energize his party. Bobby Jindal, according to key McCain advisers, brings youth and energy to a GOP campaign that, so far, lacks such vitality. For good or bad, he remains as one of the youngest and brightest stars in the republican camp.
McCain is behind in a number of key states and his campaign is looking for a jump start. He needs someone to do more than just balance the ticket. He needs an infusion fresh political air. And Bobby Jindal, despite his recent stumbling and criticism in the past few weeks, could still end up as McCain’s choice for the number two spot.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby that “there are no second acts in American lives.” But in politics, too many have proven the quote wrong including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton to name a few. Even John Kennedy was defeated at the 1956 Democratic convention in his first run for vice president.
Fitzgerald did write something else. “After all, life hasn’t much to offer except youth, and I suppose for older people, the love of youth in others.” When you have a 72 year old candidate at the top of the ticket, a 36 year old who continues to be the darling of the conservative pundits may just find himself on the team. Now what was that about some minor pay raise controversy?
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

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 1:00pm. Other changes will be announced in the weeks to come.

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