CONCORD — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, while “thinking and praying” on whether he will for run for President in the 2016 election, minced no words Friday on what he views as the failures of the current President – and also the faults of the leadership of his own Republican Party.
Jindal, in New Hampshire for the weekend to speak at four GOP events, will be telling activists that the party can no longer be “the party of no” – that it must come up with real solutions to problem ranging from heath care and the economy to terrorism and overall foreign policy.
Jindal, who at 43 is clearly a rising star nationally in the Republican Party, told the New Hampshire Journal in an interview shortly after his arrival that he is focusing on the November election and is “doing everything I can to help the party and its candidates.” His presidential decision will wait until after the Nov. 4 election.
While here, “I of course appreciate hearing from local folks about their concerns,” which is why he has been recently traveling the country, to places such as Iowa, North Carolina and Florida – all of which happen to be early and/or key presidential primary states.
“One common theme I’m hearing, whether I’m in the North, South, East or West,” he said, “is that there is great frustration with the folks in DC, and that’s not limited to Republicans being frustrated. It includes the Democratic voters as well.”
While in New Hampshire, Jindal is scheduled to attend the Strafford County GOP barbecue in Dover along with former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, the Seacoast Republican Women’s Club’s “Chilifest” at the Scamman Farm in Stratham and the Hillsborough County GOP “Primary Gala” at the Crowne Plaza in Nashua.
Jindal will meet with activists and grass roots supporters at the New Hampshire Republican Party Nashua field office on Saturday morning.
Also in New Hampshire this weekend will be Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another potential 2016 presidential hopeful. He will also appear at the Hillsborough County “Primary Gala” and will also be in the state on Sunday for events including a rally at Nashua City Hall with 2nd Congressional District Republican candidate Marilinda Garcia.
Jindal said Republican voters are frustrated with their Republican leaders as well as the Democratic leadership.
“We need to hear from our own leaders more than simply that we need to repeal Obamacare, or that we can do better on foreign affairs or that we need to do better than 2 percent growth,” he said. The GOP, he said, needs to provide more answers and more alternatives, rather than simply criticize Obama and the Democrats.
He said that his theme for the weekend, as it has been in other parts of the country, “is that it’s getting harder and harder to pursue the American Dream. I believe the President is trying to redefine the American Dream to one that is….more more of a European approach,” rather than “the country you and I grew up in.”
“I grew up in an American that believed we are forever young,” Jindal said.
Locally, Jindal said he thinks highly of U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown and candidate for governor Walt Havenstein, but he is endorsing neither in next Tuesday’s primaries. Even as vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which has backed Havenstein over Andrew Hemingway, Jindal said he is neutral until after the primary.
“The people of New Hampshire don’t want anyone from Louisiana telling them who to vote for,” he said.
But he said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen needs to be defeated in November.
“She has doubled down on Obamacare,” he said. “She is more partisan than (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid. He said he is a “great supporter” of Sen. Kelly Ayotte and said the state would be better served with a second Senator “just like her.”
Jindal, who is known in his state and nationally as a policy “wonk,” has recently sued the federal government over the Common Core education program, charging that it violates the 10th Amendment.
He said he knows that Manchester “has been having issues in terms of local control,” and said the dispute is nationwide.
A one-time supporter of Common Core, Jindal said, “The original intent was good. I’m for strong standards in our schools.” He is the father of an eighth grader and a third grader.
His major issue with Common Core stems from his belief that the program foists “federal control on local decisions. It’s a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach pushed by federal bureaucrats.”
“I trust parents and teachers working together and as this program has developed, without enough local input, we are seeing more and more opposition on the front lines.
“Even apart from my opposition to it as a governor, I encourage parents to look at the materials and the way they’re teaching the kids math, for instance. It’s not intuitive to our kids.”
Jindal said that parents may agree or disagree with the Common Core goals, but “those are the kinds of decisions that should be made on the local level. We’re seeing more and more that the tests are driving the curriculum.
“This has become a federal takeover,” he said.
Repeal and replace
Another “federal takeover” that Jindal strongly opposes is the Affordable Care Act, but this is again an area in which he believes many key Republicans have yet to offer specific alternatives.
“I’m in the repeal and replace camp,” Jindal said. “This became the law of the land because we were lied to about being able to keep our insurance plans, keep our physicians and hospitals. None of these things turned out to be true.
“But Republicans need to offer specifics on how to replace it,” he said. He said his policy group, America Next, “has detailed replacement proposals. Our first policy paper was on health care and included 16 specific points. It would actually lower health care costs. It touches on everything from tax code changes to legal changes but at the same time is not putting federal bureaucrats in charge.”
Click here to view the full proposal.
Jindal, although he is a governor, is undaunted in weighing in on foreign policy.
When President Obama said that “we don’t have a strategy, yet” on how to deal with ISIS, “We wished it was a slip of the tongue,” Jindal said. “But it wasn’t. We don’t have a strategy to deal not only with ISIS, but we don’t’ have a coherent foreign policy anywhere in the world.”
Jindal said Obama was “very articulate in expressing grief” for the families of murdered American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, but “grief is not enough.
“I don’t doubt the sincerity of his grief, but grief is not a strategy.”
Citing ISIS, the Israeli-Hamas conflict, strife in Libya and the Russian intervention in Ukraine, Jindal said, “We can trace many of these conflicts to the fact that the President doesn’t embrace the idea that the world is safer when America is at its strongest.
“We have a President who embraces multi-lateralism as a goal,” he said.
“I’m not saying we should be the world’s policemen, but you cannot lead from behind,” he said. “ISIS is a fundamentalist terrorist group that poses a threat to America and its allies in the region. And America’s negligence has allowed them to gain.”
Jindal said he supports airstrikes and broad measures to help Middle East allies fight the threat.
“We don’t need to expel ISIS, as the President has said,” said Jindal. “We need to eliminate ISIS. And the earlier we take action the easier it will be to eliminate them.”
‘Good Republican year’
Politically, Jindal predicts “a good Republican year. I think we will take the Senate and keep the House and win a bunch of governor’s seats as well. We are in a good position because of the President’s failures domestically and internationally.
But, he reiterated, “The danger is if Republicans do not offer an more positive, a more specific message on issues like energy, health care, and America’s place on the world stage. Our party needs to offer solutions.”