Louisiana Gov. Jindal enters White House race
New Orleans — Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said Wednesday he was entering the 2016 presidential race and he began trying to distinguish himself in a field packed with better known rivals.
It’s a long shot effort for an accomplished but overshadowed governor, and his prospects will depend in large measure on his continued courtship of evangelical voters. But several other contenders also are determined to win over that group.
“My name is Bobby Jindal, and I am running for president of the United States of America,” he posted on his website. Short video clips showed Jindal and his wife, Supriya, talking to their three children about the campaign to come.
“Mommy and daddy have been thinking and talking a lot about this, and we have decided we are going to be running for president,” he tells them.
The 44-year-old two-term governor planned a kickoff rally later Wednesday.
Aides discussed Jindal’s plans to focus on social conservatives, as he has done for months in extensive travels, and highlight his reputation as a policy-seasoned leader.
Jindal intends to present himself as “the youngest candidate with the longest resume,” citing an extensive background in public policy and government, strategist Curt Anderson said. Timmy Teepell, who was Jindal’s chief of staff and ran his two races for governor, will be his campaign manager.
An Oxford-educated son of Indian immigrants, Jindal can point to a political career filled with many unexpected achievements. He talked a governor into appointing him state health secretary when Jindal was 24, with little background in either health management or government. Jindal won election to Congress at 32 and became governor four years later.
Unpopular at home, Jindal waited until the state legislative session had ended and lawmakers found a way to close a $1.6 billion budget gap before he scheduled his presidential announcement. But he has been building his campaign for months with frequent trips to key presidential voting states, particularly Iowa, where he has focused on Christian conservatives.
Raised a Hindu but a convert to Catholicism as a teenager, Jindal has talked of his religious faith in small churches across Louisiana. As he readied his presidential campaign, the governor held a prayer rally in Baton Rouge, met pastors across several states and put out an executive order to grant special “religious freedom” protections to people in Louisiana who oppose same-sex marriage.
He is competing with several contenders, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who also are trying to appeal to the same pool of evangelical voters.
Jindal has worked to showcase more of the policy wonk reputation that got him elected governor, rather than focusing on cultural issues.
He has drawn distinctions from other GOP contenders by noting he has published “detailed plans” on health care, defense, education and energy policy.
He has suggested governors are better equipped to become president because they have run state governments, balanced budgets and implemented policy. That’s an argument, however, that other White House hopefuls are making or can: Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio, as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.