Jindal’s Gamble

Sep 18, 2014 by

Bobby Jindal is making a bet, according to someone familiar with his thinking: “Ideas and smarts are going to be crucial in winning the presidential nomination.”

Jindal’s nascent 2016 campaign will be an exploration of the validity of this belief. When the Louisiana governor unveils his energy plan at the Heritage Foundation today, he will do so under the auspices of his ambitious attempt to “articulate and sell a national policy agenda to the country.” Consider it also a part of another ambitious plan, the second plank of a 2016 presidential platform and an attempt to persuade Republican primary voters that they should award the party’s nomination to a 43-year-old wonk.

Jindal seeks to persuade through policy proposals more than public spectacles. The energy plan follows the health-care proposal he released in April as an alternative to Obamacare. In October of last year, he founded the nonprofit group America Next, which is churning out these plans. Next will come proposals for jobs, education, and defense — taken together, they will make a rough presidential platform.

Jindal’s health-care plan did not earn rave reviews from many on the right. One conservative policy analyst who met and spoke with him about the plan says that the general feeling among his cohort was that the plan would be “politically explosive” and that it “involved too much disruption to be plausible.” The plan, says the analyst, was “designed for the Republican primary season, but not for the larger health-care debate.”

Nonetheless, Jindal is filling a policy void that most conservatives have long acknowledged and bemoaned. Florida senator Marco Rubio, who offered his own “policy agenda designed specifically for the 21st century” in a June speech at Michigan’s Hillsdale College, is the only other 2016 presidential contender on the Republican side who has so clearly laid out the planks of a would-be platform.

For Jindal, the rest of the preparation for a presidential run is taking place behind the scenes. “There’s been a lot going on that we don’t publicize,” says a source familiar with the governor’s political strategy. That includes six trips to New York this year for meetings with “a massive number of big donors.”

Most of Jindal’s potential rivals are taking a different tack. Texas senator Ted Cruz on Wednesday marched off stage when a group of Middle Eastern Christians booed his pro-Israel remarks, and he has sucked up media oxygen in the ensuing days; New Jersey governor Chris Christie led a trade delegation to Mexico earlier this month with a bevy of reporters; and Kentucky senator Rand Paul traveled to Guatemala in August with his political team and a documentary-film crew in tow.

Jindal’s lower profile is not to be mistaken for a lack of ambition. Earlier this month he told nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt he’s “thinking and praying” about a presidential bid. He won’t stay out of the race, he said, “simply because I have friends running.” Last February, he was knocking on the door of Romney finance director Spencer Zwick, looking for introductions to the former Massachusetts governor’s top-dollar donors. He had already snapped up Jill Neunaber (who, notably, managed Romney’s Iowa campaign) to serve as executive director of America Next.

via Jindal’s Gamble | National Review Online.

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