There’s an old joke about presidential primary politics involving Mo Udall, a Democratic member of Congress from Arizona back in the 1970’s, who tried and failed to make it as a candidate for president. It goes like this:
Shortly after I announced my candidacy in New Hampshire, I walked into a local barbershop and began introducing myself:
“Hi, I’m Mo Udall and I’m running for President.”
“Yeah, we know,” says one of the hangers-on. “We were laughing about that yesterday.”
Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, might not be laughing if he heard that joke. With Chris Christie in deep and growing trouble over the set of scandals that surround him, there’s increasing talk that one of the other governors waiting in the wings might step in to take over the front-runner’s position—and Jindal, a very, very conservative Republican whose platform is centered on slicing and dicing “entitlements,” including Medicare and Social Security, wants to be that governor. For the past two years, he’s been assembling the rudiments of a presidential campaign team. There’s only one problem: in poll after poll of Republican voters, Jindal comes in dead last—or the pollsters don’t even bother including his name among the choices.
But don’t tell Jindal. He’s building a campaign machine, and he’s out to grab headlines. Last month, during a meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, Jindal easily eclipsed Christie, who stayed in the background, and it was Jindal who appeared as the Republican spokesman on Face the Nation on February 23 and who went to the White House for a dinner with President Obama. Christie skipped that dinner, and coming out of the White House Jindal took the microphone to denounce Obama is no uncertain terms, breaking the polite protocol that usually marks such events.
And on March 14, the New Hampshire Republican party is hosting “An Evening with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.”
His campaign is already taking shape. Last year, Jindal founded what looks like a pre-presidential organizing committee called America Next. In its mission statement, Jindal says:
There is a great sense in this country that the leftwing Obama experiment has been a failure…. A rebellion is brewing outside the Washington Beltway.