Thursday, October 9th, 2008
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
A VISIT WITH BOBBY JINDAL
For 25 GRAND
So you are going to the LSU – Florida game this Saturday night in Gainesville… right? And while you are there, why not stop off at a local residence in nearby Alachua, Florida. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will be there to greet you. For only $10,000, you can have a photo op with him. If you bring $25,000, you can participate in a roundtable discussion with Jindal. Who could possibly pass up an opportunity like this?
The fund raiser, by the way, is being co hosted by a large group of prominent Florida Republicans, including the Florida House Speaker and the House Majority Leader. (To read the full invitation, go to the homepage of http://www.jimbrownla.com/.) This is just one of a series of political events that have either featured the Louisiana governor, or have been given in his behalf around the country in the past few months.
Vice President Dick Cheney was in Louisiana earlier this week to help raise money on behalf of several Republican candidates for Congress. A photo op with the VP would only cost you $2300. But here’s the difference. Cheney is a lame duck on his way out. Bobby Jindal’s stature as the Republican Party’s fair haired boy for the future continues to grow. And when people give you $25,000 just to sit around and talk for a while, he obviously has his sights set beyond the Louisiana borders.
The 08 presidential election is still some three weeks away, and anything can happen. But partisans on both sides are reading the daily tracking polls. Barack Obama’s numbers are on the rise, and Senator John McCain has an uphill battle to overcome the knock that Republican policies are a substantial cause of the present financial crisis. If McCain loses on November 4, all this talk of Jindal as a vice presidential candidate in 2012 will go by the wayside. A Louisiana Governor, merely thinking about reelection, does not fly off to Florida for the weekend and get $10,000 a pop just to have his picture taken with campaign contributors.
Why would any candidate start so early organizing and raising campaign funds for a race that is still more than four years away? This is exactly the path taken by a number of successful presidential aspirants in years past. Jindal is not the only one who was considered for vice president, not selected, then who immediately begin planning for a presidential run in the next election cycle.
Former President John Kennedy comes to mind when he made an all-out effort to be Adali Stevenson’s running mate back in 1956. Kennedy was bypassed on the ticket (just like Jindal this time around), but immediately began planning for a presidential run four years in advance. And Kennedy was just one year older than Jindal when he too missed out on the vice presidential nomination.
Former President Jimmy Carter hoped to be George McGovern’s pick at the Democratic convention in 1972. He had only been elected as Governor of Georgia less than two years earlier. Carter was a long shot, but he knew his political history. He had followed John Kennedy’s 1956 VP bid, and observed that, though unsuccessful, Kennedy’s efforts had paid great dividends in public awareness. Carter immediately began preparing for a successful presidential run that was four years away.
Bill Clinton’s first major foray into national politics occurred when he was enlisted to speak at the 1988 Democratic national convention, introducing candidate Michael Dukakis. Clinton’s address, scheduled to last 15 minutes, became a debacle as he gave a notoriously dull speech that lasted over a half an hour (he joked about the length of his speech at the 1992 convention).
Despite this setback, Bill Clinton prepared immediately after the 88 election for a run in 1992 against incumbent President George H. W. Bush. In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, President Bush seemed unbeatable, and several potential Democratic candidates – notably New York Governor Mario Cuomo –passed on what seemed to be a lost cause. But, ala Jindal, Clinton was persistent and worked tirelessly for the nomination four years in advance.
How about forays of Louisiana politicians who waded into the national political scene? We all know of Governor Huey Long’s interest in running for president back in the 1930s. And former Louisiana Governor John McKeithen was a serious contender for Vice President on a Hubert Humphrey ticket in 1968. Before his death, Senator Russell Long told me Humphrey had indicated to him he would pick McKeithen. At the last minute, he opted out for Maine Senator Edmund Muskie.
And you might be surprised at this Louisiana politician who considered running for president back in 1980. Would you believe Edwin Edwards? The former Louisiana Governor was at the height of his popularity in 1976, and though a democrat, actively supported then President Gerald Ford for re-election. Edwards felt Jimmy Carter was a light weight, and never had much respect for him.
About a year into Carter’s term, I was on airplane with the governor flying back to Baton Rouge following a dedication of a hospital up in Northeast Louisiana where I had been elected as state senator. As was my habit, I brought a book along to read during the flight. On this trip, I was reading “Marathon-The Pursuit of the Presidency” by longtime Washington correspondent Jules Witcover. Edwards inquired as to what I was reading, and I told him it was a step by step guide as to how the early efforts by Carter had won him the presidency.
A few days later, Edwards called me at my home in Ferriday, asked if I still had the book, and if so, could he borrow it. I asked him if he was considering running for president. He said he was far from impressed over the job that Carter was doing in the White House, and that he was going to be making some speeches around the country just to “pick up the pulse on Carter and see what response I might get.” A few months later, Edwards came under a negative light regarding his relationship with South Korean lobbyist Tonjun Park, and any national political hopes were put on the sidelines.
Four years used to be a lifetime in both national and local politics. But experience has shown that if you want to be a viable candidate on the national scene, then it is already time to start planning for 2012. Bobby Jindal has a full plate load of problems right here in Louisiana. But so did Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and a host of other governors who aspired to national office. With the accolades he is receiving throughout the country and his aggressive out of state fund-raising efforts, Jindal seems to be laying the framework for a legitimate run in 2012.
“Democracy means that anyone can grow up to be president, and anyone who doesn’t grow up can be vice president.” Johnny Carson
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s weekly column appears in a number of newspapers and websites 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 also has a new book out on his views of Louisiana. You can read about it and order it by going to http://www.jimbrownla.com/. .
Jim’s radio show on WRNO (995 fm) from New Orleans can be heard each Sunday, from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm.