Skip to comments.Q and A with Bobby Jindal
Posted on 11/11/2003 3:18:00 PM PST by Theodore R.
Gubernatorial hopeful Bobby Jindal was in Minden Friday for the sixth time during his campaign run. Prior to attending a rally in his honor at the Minden Civic Center, Jindal stopped by the Minden Press-Herald for a question and answer session. The questions address the largest areas of concern facing the state as well as criticisms about Jindal's age and other concerns voiced by those opposing the 32-year-old Republican.
Question: Why do you consider yourself to be a good leader?
Jindal: There are a couple of things; I think the fact that I have a proven track record of solving problems. We were able to reduce spending at Health and Hospitals by hundreds of millions of dollars while we improved outcomes. At the university system we were able to improve retention and graduation rates to better serve students.
I think what Louisiana needs in its next governor is a leader who has problem solving abilities, who has the ability to work with different groups of people. To bring them together to address the problems we face. As a state we're losing our population. We don't have enough jobs. We don't have affordable healthcare. We've got to improve our schools.
So I think we're looking for someone whose got new ideas; someone whose got the energy to implement those ideas and can hit the ground running. I think I bring that to the table as a candidate for governor.
Question: Do you think your age and lack of political experience will in any way hinder your performance as governor?
Jindal: I don't. I think the voters are looking at track records. They're looking to see what candidates have accomplished in their lives. I think voters are looking at me and say, "here's a candidate that has run our state's largest department - the health department. Here's a candidate that's worked at the national level for a bipartisan commission on the country's largest program - Medicare. Here's a candidate that's run one of the country's 20 largest university systems."
I think what they're looking at is we get the best of both worlds. We get a candidate with a lot of experience. But we also get a candidate with the energy and the ability to bring new ideas and the ability to travel the country and to bring jobs back to Louisiana.
It's not just age. It's what I've done in those years that I think is what is important for voters.
Question: You've been compared to Huey Long by this paper as well as others. Do you see why some compare you to the former governor? Do you see the comparison?
Jindal: There have been a lot of young politicians and political figures. Huey Long was certainly one of them. John Breaux was relatively young when he went to Congress and started his public service.
I'm certainly flattered by the comparisons to those who have come before me. But I think every candidate runs on their own, and presents their own records and credentials. I think the examples all prove that what is most important about a candidate is their background and their credentials. What those examples prove is that voters have been willing to give people a chance. They're willing to give candidates who are not career politicians a chance. I think that's very good for our state.
Question: There are a great number of Democrats who support you. Recently, you earned a key endorsement from the Democratic mayor of New Orleans. Why do you think these people are crossing party lines and pulling support from their party?
Jindal: All along, I've said my candidacy is a non-traditional one. My candidacy is about attracting Republicans and Democrats from all over the state, north and south Louisiana.
I think the reason I'm getting those endorsements and support from a lot of individuals and groups who have never crossed party lines before is that they're saying, "which of these candidates do we think is most capable and most likely of improving the economic opportunities for our children? Which candidate is most likely of improving our schools? Which candidate do we want to send to corporate boardrooms to bring jobs to Louisiana?"
I think these individuals and groups who have crossed party lines have said, "Bobby Jindal is the candidate better qualified and more likely to do that."
We've offered detailed plans. Eleven pages on economic development. Sixteen pages on healthcare. Sixteen pages on schools. Fifteen points on restoring honesty and integrity to the government. And I've got a proven track record of brining about change - of improving education and healthcare programs.
It's not about Democrat and Republicans. It's not about Washington. It's about the voters of Louisiana and who is most likely to improve the quality of life for the people of Louisiana.
Question: You have been criticized heavily and said to be only an extension of Gov. Foster's regime. What will your relationship be with Foster if elected?
Jindal: I think anyone who knows my record knows that is simply not true. There are policies where I disagree with the governor. I don't agree with him that he should be negotiating with Indian tribes for new casinos. I said I would line item veto some of the pork barrel projects that are currently in the budget - some of the political spending. I've said we need to phase out some of these business taxes on borrowed debt, on new equipment.
So there are some areas where we disagree. I agree he has made education a priority, but that's a good thing. But there are areas where we disagree.
I'm proud he supports me. I'm proud that the president supports me. I'm proud of the fact that I worked for the governor. I'm proud of the fact that I worked for Sen. Breaux. I'm proud of the fact that I worked for President Bush. But at the end of the day, I want voters to vote for Bobby Jindal not because of any of those people. I want them to vote for Bobby Jindal because they know I will do a good job for them.
The good news is this election is about the future and not the past of Louisiana. I'm running as my own man. I've made it clear I'm going to make my own appointments. And that the only role that Governor Foster will have is that of any other ex-governor. Certainly, any of the ex-governors, you are honored to talk to them, but they're not going to have a role in my administration.
Question: What are the biggest problems facing the state?
Jindal: First is the lack of economic opportunities. Towns like Minden, parishes like Webster and the entire northern part of the state continues to see people leave our communities as they grow up and get an education because the jobs simply aren't here.
The number one problem is creating economic opportunities so that we aren't the only state in the south to lose population.
Closely related second problem is education. If we can provide a high quality of education for our people, that helps to solve the economic problems. Now that's not all of it. Part of it is the tax structure, the regulatory structure. We don't take advantage of the natural resources we have in our state.
But those are the top two pressing problems. Number three and four on my list, by the way, are more affordable healthcare and restoring honesty to the political process.
Question: How important do you think is the extension of I-49 for not just Northwest Louisiana, but the entire state?
Jindal: It is certainly important to connect between Shreveport and the Arkansas line, but it's important for not only Northwest Louisiana but also the whole state and country. It would connect the ports on the Gulf of Mexico, specifically the New Orleans port, with the markets all over the country.
As we get more goods and services traveling through our state, we can create more jobs. We can create manufacturing and other jobs in Northwest Louisiana and throughout our state.
We know international trade is coming in both directions. We know the free trade act means the volume is almost going to double over the next several years, and we need to make sure we position Louisiana to take advantage of that. We've got a great geographical location. We've got the rivers. We are the only state with six major railroad links. Now we need to complete our highway infrastructure.
And it's important we do is soon. We know Texas is investing in their ports and their roads. We know those goods and services are coming; it's only a question of whether they come through Louisiana or do we let them go through Texas. We have the opportunity if we build this infrastructure to bring investments and jobs to not only Webster, Bossier and Caddo Parishes, but to our entire state.
Where do you see Louisiana in 20 years if you're elected on Nov. 15?
Jindal: Our state will no longer be losing population. We will be attracting population. People will be coming to Louisiana for the educational and economic opportunities.
Economically we will have diversified our economy. We will have certainly built on the traditional bases of forestry, oil and gas and other natural resources, but we will also have diversified. We will have attracted federal and private investment of healthcare infrastructure.
For example, you'll see companies researching the miracle cures here in North Louisiana as well as all over the state. You'll see across our economy better paying jobs that offer benefits so people can have affordable healthcare. You'll see better public schools where kids can get a good education and parents know their kids are going to a safe classroom where the discipline is being taken care of and teachers are being paid for doing their work.
You'll see a Louisiana where in terms of healthcare, we've reformed our public healthcare system so we're still providing care for those who can't afford it, but we're not using an outdated system. We've got a much more flexible healthcare system that is sensitive to local needs and local concerns.
The state will have invested in its infrastructure. We'll have built the roads. We'll have expanded our ports and airports so it's easier to not only travel within our state but to bring goods and services and people to and from our state.
You'll see a state that is no longer known across the country for its entertaining politics. There'll no longer be the perception of the "Louisiana way," where it's not what you know but who you know. Instead, we'll be known as a state that has protected its environment, created educational as well as economic opportunities by taking advantage of the wonderful resources that God has blessed us with.
We'll be a state where our children can pursue their dreams without leaving home.
Where do you see Louisiana in 20 years if you're not elected on Nov. 15?
Jindal: I think it is a critical election for Louisiana. We've got to decide which direction we want to move in. Do we want to elect a problem solver? Do we want to elect someone who is not a career politician to take us forward?
I've got great dreams for our state. Our state is bigger than any one person. Our state is bigger than any one election. This is a very important election and we must have a sense of urgency, but this state is a wonderful state.
I don't want to pretend that one election is going to mean that in 20 years we can't have a great state. We can. I want to start the work today.
I think the real question we've got in front of Louisiana is do we want to start today while the opportunities are still here? If we continue to wait, other states will continue to go beyond us. Mississippi will continue to get those car plants. Texas will continue to build those roads and ports. It will be just that much harder for Louisiana to catch up with its neighboring states.
The answer is a no-brainer. Go, Bobby, go! I'll be working hard to get out the vote in Jefferson Parish's "72-hour blitz." Governor Jindal sounds mighty good! On to victory and a better Lousiana!!!
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