Skip to comments.Son of Indian immigrants a rising Republican star
Posted on 03/09/2008 3:05:41 PM PDT by TornadoAlley3
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) Somehow, being the first Indian-American and the youngest person ever elected to govern a US state wasn't enough.
Within weeks of taking office, rising Republican star Piyush "Bobby" Jindal's name was thrown into the ring as a possible vice-presidential candidate by influential conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
And some say the 36-year-old son of Punjabi immigrants could make a great president if he plays his cards right.
A cowboy boot-wearing social conservative, Jindal built his political support among Christian conservatives and middle-class whites with his promises to cut taxes, tighten government spending and impose a total ban on abortions.
Since taking office on January 14, the new governor is winning respect from blacks, liberals and other traditional Democrats with his ethics reforms and a vigorous approach to economic progress.
"Bobby Jindal is striking a chord with Democrats. They're saying, 'I love Bobby Jindal and I am so glad he's our governor," said Democratic media consultant Cheron Brylski who calls Jindal "Louisiana's last hope."
"There is also an overwhelming pride about having a minority governor," she said in an interview.
Jindal's youthful enthusiasm and ability to bridge calcified divides of race and party has led some to see him as the Republican party's answer to Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
"Jindal is not near the poet that Obama is -- yet -- but he has a great story to tell," said political consultant Allan Katz.
Born in Baton Rouge in 1971 to recent immigrants from India's northern Punjab state, Jindal's career in this southern state once known for deep racial differences has been meteoric.
His father, an engineer and one of nine children of a poor rural family, came to the United States so that his mother could continue her graduate work in nuclear physics.
Jindal took easily to US culture. As a boy, he adopted his nickname "Bobby" from a character on "The Brady Bunch" television show. As a teenager, he converted to Roman Catholicism from Hinduism.
A policy wonk and Rhodes scholar who graduated from Oxford University, Jindal was appointed secretary of Louisiana's health department at age 24.
Three years later he was handed the helm of the state's higher education system after being tapped by President George W. Bush to head a national commission on medical insurance reform.
In his first major political setback, Jindal was narrowly defeated by Kathleen Blanco when he ran for governor in 2003.
But he was then elected to Congress in 2004 from a suburban New Orleans district, and won reelection in 2006, one year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated New Orleans and put a harsh spotlight on state and local government incompetence -- opening the door for his second quest for the governor's office.
Katz says he has not seen so much public enthusiasm for a governor in decades.
"Bobby Jindal is off to a great start," he told AFP. "He knows how to build public support, work the media and to bring public pressure to get his stuff passed."
For now, Jindal is focused on lifting the state of Louisiana from the barnacled bottom of national quality-of-life rankings.
His first foray was to attack the culture of corruption which has long dominated Louisiana politics.
Sunday, Jindal launches another special session aimed at improving infrastructure, cutting taxes on business, and boosting hurricane protection and coastal restoration as the legislature sorts out how to spend a 1.2 billion dollar surplus.
"We must focus on our most fundamental priority ... to make Louisiana a place of opportunity for our children so they don't have to leave the state to find a job, make a great career, and pursue their dreams," he said.
Political columnist John Maginnis says Jindal's first legislative session shows he is "persistent," but it's too early to discern his style of governing.
C.B. Forgotston, a former lawyer for the check-writing state House Appropriations Committee said Jindal "is very aloof, but he plays hardball behind the scenes."
No polls have been published during Jindal's first weeks in power.
But most editorial writers have at least expressed grudging admiration for his administration, which is filling up with mostly young policymakers.
Maybe I missed it, was he born in USA?
Yes, born in Louisiana, and IMHO he will be President someday.
Woman’s Hospital, Baton Rouge, LA
I hope I’m around to see it. We really like him here in Louisiana.
I hope he’s president right after Haley Barbour. I’d be right proud to have either one of them.
India would lose its marbles if he were elected VP, and in a very good way. This would be a good thing, and hopefully would cement US-Indian relations.
Talk about changing the world map overnight.
Great. Super. I’d like to see his REAL record some 2-4 years from now. But using a first few months experience as governor as a trampoline to a national office is a dumb strategy. Same goes for the senate and the Democrat scum who ‘ve tried to pull it off, including their current frontrunner.
Oh, yeah, most immigrants come to America to escape war, famine and to find a better life, Indians come to America to complete their masters and doctorates. LOL!
he talks sort of fast:)
Obviously a Hindu Manchurian candidate. /s
Right - I don’t want him for VP because that would be too reactive. Promise is there, though.
A few years from now, maybe. Right now, he should make good on his promise to clean up Louisiana.
Very tall order.
Right. Precisely why he shouldn’t be running for another office right now.
Exactly! VP would be such a waste of his talent. I am looking forward to the future, though. In fact, when McCain became the Republican nominee, I was quite disappointed. Bobby Jindal gives me hope that there are young conservatives out there that can bring conservative ideas back to the forefront.
2012 or 2016 would be my estimate. Give him two terms as Governor of LA to show what conservative principles, policies, and governance can accomplish and he may be the most qualified presidential candidate within memory (maybe even more qualified than the great Ronald Reagan, because Bobby will have had Reagan as a role model).
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