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.
Bobby Jindal Interview (PDF)
My dad’s heart doctor is an Indian Christian. He is an amazing conservative and I enjoy talking with him when I take my dad to the doctor. He likes to gab like me and we can talk for hours.
Jindahl has no interest in VP. Not now...he knows and says he’s got a once in a lifetime chance to put LA on track. He’s flattered, but not now.
And now Governor and was a Congressman, so he has MORE EXPERIENCE in RUNNING things than ALL the candidates!! Go Bobby!!! Good thing he didn't pick Marsha!
Did his family also convert to Catholicism or just him?
I saw him on a news program the other day while my wife and I were half watching. Now she has turned back to her dem roots and has become a Hillary supporter, but we were discussing when a minority would become President and coming across the Jindall interview I remarked to her that if he can follow through and turn that corrupt state of Louisiana around then he will be the President in 2016.
The thing I like about Bobby is that he backs up everything he says with clear supporting evidence so you can see his reasoning. He is not the type to throw out empty promises or make stupid speeches that say nothing, but sound good. He is a straight talker, a straight shooter, and has common-sense smarts.
“Right now, he should make good on his promise to clean up Louisiana.”
Louisiana went from a ranking of around 45 to a ranking of #1 for political ethics after Bobby’s ethics initiatives were passed into law. He is already making a big difference.
Hope he does a good job in Louisiana. He is definitely a rising star in the Republican party.
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