13 reasons why Bobby Jindal won’t be the GOP nominee

Screenshot of Gov. Bobby Jindal on ABC's "This Week" on May 31, 2015.

Screenshot of Gov. Bobby Jindal on ABC’s “This Week” on May 31, 2015.

By Robert Mann

Month after month, week after week, Gov. Bobby Jindal labors to make himself relevant to the 2016 presidential election. Every week, Jindal make some (increasingly) desperate attempt for attention and relevance. Each week, he gives an interview to a national media organization. He’s forever issuing statements attacking Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul — and even former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee. At least once a month, it seems, he pops up on one of the Sunday morning news shows. He stalks the GOP candidate circuit from Iowa to New Hampshire to Washington to Disney World. He’s written an op-ed in almost every newspaper in the United States.

On the rare occasion he makes an appearance in Louisiana, he’s done everything possible to establish himself as a champion of “religious freedom.” He signed an executive order to give license to businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples. He’s even championed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would outlaw same-sex marriage.

Despite having made a wreck of the state’s budget (including structural deficits for years), he’s also sold his soul to Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Although he has approved more than $700 million in tax increases (using a phony offset scheme he and Norquist devised), Jindal desperately wants GOP voters in Iowa and New Hampshire to see him as the candidate most violently against tax increases.

In other words, Jindal has done everything possible to position himself for a serious run at the White House.

And yet.

After all that effort, Jindal is mired at 1 percent in most national polls of GOP voters. In one recent survey, he was dead last, in 16th place, at 0 percent. In some cases, he’s not even included the polls.

By the standards set at Fox News and CNN, it does not appear that Jindal will make the cut for the early televised debates. The networks may relegate him to the TV equivalent of the children’s table, where he would spar with other also-rans like Donald Trump, Cary Fiorina and George Pataki.

Jindal must be asking himself every night: “What’s wrong? Why aren’t my efforts paying off? Why is my campaign stuck like Gorilla Glue at 1 percent?”

Well, here are at least 13 reasons that come to my mind. I would invite you to add your own reasons in the comments sections below.

1. He’s like a pudding with no theme. Despite having tried to stake out the “religious freedom” issue, it doesn’t appear that most GOP voters know much about Jindal and his fierce fight for their freedoms. They don’t appear to associate him with any major issue, policy achievement or ideology. Sen. Rand Paul is the Libertarian. Sen. Ted Cruz is the tea party favorite. Gov. Scott Walker is the guy who battled the unions. Sen. Marcio Rubio is Cuban and might attract more Latinos to the GOP. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee was a Baptist preacher and is known for his ability to relate to the Christian right. Former Gov. Jeb Bush has the last name “Bush.” What, exactly, is Jindal known for, unless it’s a bad habit of latching onto the issue of the week with the most extreme and ridiculous position possible?

2. He’s governor of Louisiana. Jindal has said that the voters should be looking to elect a governor because governors have executive experience. The problem is that he’s governor of Louisiana, a state not exactly known for its success or innovation in many policy areas, unless you admire us for having some of the nation’s worst crime and poverty, as well as the country’s highest incarceration rate. Under Jindal’s rule, the state’s budget has also been in a constant state of turmoil.  As for its economy, the Louisiana has the nation’s sixth-highest unemployment rate. 

3. He’s not a natural politician/campaigner. Jindal too often comes off as robotic, cold and humorless. In person, I’m sure he’s a decent guy who’s fun to be around (I’m not really sure of that, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this.) The guy is certainly not a natural politician. He’s not the worst, but to climb to the top of the heap in a presidential primary race, he must ramp up his game considerably. The bad news is this not a quality that most politicians can change about themselves in a month or two. You are generally a natural campaigner who connects with audiences, or you are not.

4. He doesn’t make full use of his first-generation American story. Jindal talks a bit about his dad coming to America with almost nothing and making a good life for his family. But he doesn’t make much of the fact that he is a first-generation American. He rarely, if ever, mentions his Indian roots. In fact, Jindal goes out of his way to attack the very idea of hyphenated Americans. In doing so, he may be depriving his campaign of a compelling story.

5. He has the scent of desperation about him.
He’s made too many gaffes and too many dumb statements. It’s not just his nationally televised face plant in 2009, responding to President Obama’s speech to Congress (most recently ridiculed by Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show”); it’s a puzzling stream of gaffes and strange statements that usually seem to get him into the news for all the wrong reasons. For example, instead of making news for his foreign policy expertise, Jindal was ridiculed for a week or more over his strange and unsubstantiated allegations in London about European “no-go zones.” Most recently, there was his silly attack on former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee over the metric system. Jindal once lectured his party about the need to stop acting stupid. Too often, these days, Jindal looks like the leader of his party’s Stupid Wing.

6. He changes messages too often. Jindal has talked often about “religious freedom,” but that’s not enough to win the nomination. He needs a larger, better and more compelling issue. He clearly hasn’t found it. Instead, Jindal seems to bounce from message to message. A candidate with 10 messages is a candidate with no message. Each week finds Jindal commenting about something or attacking someone new. He clearly wishes to be seen as the most aggressive candidate in the race – the guy who can pick a fight and finish it. The problem is that he’s running for president by playing the message version of “Whack-a-Mole.” That’s has not been a successful strategy.

7. He doesn’t have a signature policy innovation to tout. Perhaps one reason Jindal does not have that signature issue is that his accomplishments in Louisiana are so thin. He cannot point to one policy innovation – something he conceived or invented – that he can recommend to the rest of the nation. He will talk about education “reform,” for sure, but nothing he has done in that area was his idea. He has simply – and ineptly – enacted the policy ideas of others. There is not one thing about which Jindal can say in Iowa, “In Louisiana, I developed and implemented this idea, which the rest of the states should adopt.” He has nothing. For a guy who was said to be a policy wonk, he has been a policy flop. His “American Next” organization might be touting some new ideas, but none of them have been implemented in Louisiana.

8. He’s in the wrong candidate lane, competing with too many other social conservatives. If there is any Republican group Jindal has tried to court, it’s been Christian evangelicals. The problem is that this lane is already crowded with people who have a longer history and much more credibility with the Christian right: Huckabee, Rick Santorum and, to a lesser extent, Ted Cruz. Jindal has clearly not connected with that group. There is no evidence that he will.

9. He is the least popular governor in the country. I’m not sure how much it has penetrated the ranks of Iowa caucus goers yet, but Jindal is deeply unpopular in Louisiana. He is likely the least popular governor in the country. That has influenced the way the national press regards him. His profound unpopularity among the voters who know him best certainly hasn’t helped him establish his credibility among GOPers around the country.

10. He is too exotic for GOP voters. He is Indian, a former Hindu and once performed an exorcism. While he may not talk about his Indian roots, GOP voters clearly know that he is a minority. To the extent there is racial intolerance in the Republican Party (perish the thought!), it cannot help Jindal. These are many of the same people who have never trusted Obama because they think he’s a foreigner – who might also be a Muslim. Jindal was raised a Hindu and converted to Catholicism in his teens. I’m sure he’s a true believer, but he may simply be too exotic for some very conservative and intolerant people on the right. And, then, there’s the odd fact of Jindal’s college exorcism, which will surely come up if he should start moving in the polls.

11. The memories of his 2009 response to Obama still weigh him down. That dreadful speech was many years ago, but it remains vivid in the minds of too many people. As mentioned earlier, Jimmy Fallon showed the speech’s hilarious opening on his show last week and got a huge laugh merely by making fun of the way Jindal walked. The memory of that disaster has adhered to Jindal like a bad tattoo. He cannot remove it. As evidenced by the reaction of Fallon’s audience, the speech causes many people to see Jindal as a joke or a buffoon.

12. His image of a last-place, also-ran is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the old saying goes, nothing succeeds like success. The opposite is also true: nothing sucks like sucking. The longer Jindal stays in the cellar, mired at 1 percent or zero, the more the image of “hapless loser” will stick to him.

13. He has terrible political advisors. Consider everything I have listed in many of the 12 points above. Almost everything Jindal has done, he’s done because someone he pays handsomely has advised him to do it. Jindal is clearly getting dreadful political advice from someone. I’m not sure that firing his political advisors would change much at this point, but could a new campaign team help make him any less popular?

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25 Responses to 13 reasons why Bobby Jindal won’t be the GOP nominee

  1. June Butler says:

    “He doesn’t have a signature policy innovation to tout.”

    Jindal’s policy of selling off state assets as one time patches over the holes in the budget is his to tout, but the the budget ends up in worse shape the following year, so I doubt he’d want to call attention to that innovation. He’s got nuthin’.

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  2. G. V. Foreman says:

    Jindal’s play for the White House is part and parcel of his “dog and pony show”, his political “shell game”. Jindal knows he doesn’t have a snowball chance in Hades of being elected president or even a vice-president. Republican’s dislike and distrust Jindal as much as, if not more, than his Louisiana adversaries. Jindal has demonstrated on numerous occasions an inability, if not downright stubbornness, to respect, follow and honor delineated party positions. The Republican Party hierarchy views Jindal as the ultimate political loose cannon, a self-serving political ingrate that would not hesitate to throw the entire Republican Party under the bus for the sake of his political fortune. Louisiana is living proof of this belief. Ironic in as much as Jindal lectured and admonished the Republican Party to quit being the party of stupid. Bobby, news flash, bug report, your fellow Republicans, and many Louisiana citizens, are not as stupid as you think. From Jindal’s viewpoint, the Republican Party may not be the sharpest knife in the box but they have no problem in “cutting” through the demagogic rhetoric and “Kook-Aide” positions he has advocated. In reality, Jindal hasn’t politically matured to appreciate the fact that people can be fooled some of the time, and other people can be fooled part of the time, but, we are not totally stupid to the dog and pony show he calls “administration”.
    My contention is Jindal doesn’t even want the presidency.
    From Jindal’s standpoint, the ultimate price is David Vitter’s unexpired Senate seat, assuming of course Vitter wins the governorship. My prediction is as follows: Vitter wins the governorship leaving his current senatorial seat vacant. Jindal would appoint his self to fill Vitter’s unexpired term making the appointment effective after Vitter is sworn in as governor. In as much as less than 50% of Vitter’s unexpired term would remain an election would not be required until next year. Jindal would then be U.S. Senator from Louisiana for a year giving him a “leg up” in the Senatorial election of 2016. Being an ex-governor, in spite of his demonstrated ineptitude as governor, Jindal would enjoy strong political ties with the state’s power elite, enjoy bought and paid for-by the citizens of Louisiana via his billions of dollars in tax credits-support of Louisiana’s business and industrial community, being a year removed from the financial and fiscal nightmare he produced for Louisiana, coupled with his patent demagogic personality and approach, Jindal would be the undisputed front runner for the election. Plus, Jindal would have a war chest of campaign contributions from his unsuccessful presidential bid to spend on his senatorial bid. Now we know why Jindal has spent all that time traveling the countryside “campaigning for president”.

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    • G.V. Foreman: Thanks for the different perspective on Jindal’s unfathomable actions.

      From what I can surmise of GOP behavior, your analysis has distinct probabilities. GOPers wrap themselves in family values, freedom of religion, a pro-life stance, “balance of power” issues, all seemingly benign, while stealthily masking their true motives. If Jindal’s aim is to remain relevant, it may also explain why some legislators are still loyal to him and his ATR pledge despite his numbered days as governor. They may be privy to his plans as convoluted.as they seem to the rest of us. Good chance you are right. Whatever his plans are, it may not be presidential. We’ll just have to wait to see how the world turns!

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    • Fredster says:

      That might be possible except for the fact that Vitter and Jindal can’t stand each other and I think the party leaders in the state would scream and howl if he were to try it. If he succeeded in doing this he would serve out the remainder of Vitter’s term and that would be that. No way he would win an election for the seat.

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      • jhillmurphy says:

        Jindal can’t stand Vitter? Finally, I’ve heard one good thing about Jindal,

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      • Greg Foreman says:

        I have heard about the inter party feud between Jindal and Vitter. If Vitter wins the governorship, what better way for Jindal to insult him than by taking his seat in the senate? Irrespective of whether Jindal wants or doesn’t want the presidency-a tangent I somewhat regret floating-we can all agree that Jindal is the living embodiment of a “career politician”. Jindal has been nothing more than a “public servant”(quotes intended) his entire life. He has never had what could remotely be considered a real job. This year, after the first week in November, Jindal will be looking for a new job. Appointing his self to Vitter’s unexpired seat would be Jindal’s least expensive, easiest, most politically expedient action to further his political career. The fact that Jindal and Vitter don’t send flowers to each other is irrelevant. However, from Vitter’s standpoint, if elected governor, it would be in Vitter’s best interest to get Jindal as far away from state political circles as possible. If Jindal stays in Louisiana, he will publicly second guess every move, every decision presented by Vitter’s administration. Allowing Jindal to fill his unexpired senatorial term would limit Jindal’s intrusion in state politics and make him Bill Cassidy’s problem and source of embarrassment. Your contention that Jindal would not stand a chance in the 2016 election does hold water. The 2016 election should draw a substantial voter turnout and Jindal historically doesn’t perform very well in “major elections”. Example, yes, he won the last gubernatorial election with 60% of the vote cast, however, less than 35% of the state’s registered voters voted-one of the lowest voter turnouts for governor in history. However, as ex-governor, Jindal would still command a substantial degree of support from the industry and business sectors of Louisiana and, again, it would be in Vitter’s best interest to keep Jindal as far away from state politics as possible. Although it would make for strange political bed fellows, in a run off election, Vitter would begrudgingly support Jindal’s bid for the senate.

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      • Fredster says:

        Well G. V. Foreman, all I can say is this is one voter who will never be pulling a lever, circling an oval or anything else for that little twerp if he runs for another office.

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    • NolaNirvana says:

      I would hope the citizens of Louisiana would mount a revolution if Booby attempted to appoint himself to Vitter’s seat.

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    • OneStateWorker says:

      G. V.,

      I strongly disagree with your “contention” that jindal doesn’t want to be president.

      The mother of one of jindal’s BR high classmates reports that seriously believed he could be POTUS when he was in high school.

      One of his middle school teachers stated that he was incapable of admitting any mistake.

      A doctor suggests that jindal has a narcissism disorder.

      Others have suggested that his callous disregard for the damage he has done to Louisiana citizens and his obvious belief that rules do not apply to him, suggest that he is a sociopath.

      A teacher shared that jindal got his reputation for being smart because he has what us common folk call a photographic memory. As noted in 1 and 7 above, nothing he has done as Governor has been his idea. If you look at the legislation he has pushed, almost all of it has come from ALEC. If you consider his criticism of Republican leadership (the party of stupid) and his ever more impulsive, disparate and disjointed public statements, it becomes clear that HE is the emperor of the “party of stupid”.

      Many of us figured out that being Louisiana governor was never anything but a stepping stone to the Presidency for jindal. We have been accurately observing that he has ONLY done what he thought would help him get elected to the Presidency. We also haven’t forgotten that jindal spent almost as much time in Iowa and the rest of the POTUS campaign trail during his first term as he did in his second. That is why he was considered a contender for the VP slot with McCain. He would have seen it as another step up toward the Presidency.

      To me, all of these facts paint the picture of a man driven by his ambition to be POTUS and unable to admit that his life long dream will never be fulfilled.

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      • June Butler says:

        OneStateWorker, there’s much truth in what you say. Though I’m not a professional, and psychological diagnoses from a distance are iffy, I’m almost certain Jindal has some sort of personality disorder. One day the reality that he will never be president will smack him squarely in the face, and he will have decisions to make. Or it’s possible that he’s more grounded in the real world than we know and is already planning for such an eventuality. He’s a grifter for as long as someone is willing to pay, and it’s taken him quite a long distance. Of one thing I’m nearly certain: Jindal will be afraid to stay in Louisiana without his police security guard for himself and his family.

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  3. Reblogged this on The Daily Kingfish and commented:
    14. He’s a slimeball.

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  4. RM: Only 13!!! … Well 14, now.

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  5. Cowboy Kahlil says:

    His ‘serious’ look (see pic above) suggests an advert for Ex-Lax.

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  6. Chaz Roemer says:

    Timmy Teepel

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  7. Steve Shurtz says:

    Good job, Robert Mann, of summarizing Jindal’s weaknesses. He has none of the credentials nor “style points” necessary to run an effective campaign for President in the 21st century. Sad little man. He abdicated his education, his heritage, and his promise. Move along, nothing to see here!

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  8. Fredster says:

    This probably goes along with #3 but he doesn’t appear “Presidential”. Think Mike Dukakis in the tank.

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  9. Angie says:

    I think these cover the high points. But I think his biggest problem is personality. Or maybe lack thereof. Part of it is his clear willingness to say anything that he thinks his target group wants to hear. A man with no convictions is not attractive. But, I think you can’t underestimate his complete lack of charisma. American voters like candidates who create emotion and attachment for them. It is really hard to like Bobby Jindal. And he truly is in capable of arousing emotion in a crowd. It’s kind of pathetic to watch.

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  10. John D Fitzmorris says:

    You left out he does not look like a President; sorry but that’s the brutal truth. Jindal’a political rise was a fluke. Had Blanco not botched the Katrina recovery Jindal would be another political footnote as it is we will soon be just such a footnote. Problem is it didn’t come soon enough and he was able to wreck the state of Louisiana in the interim

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  11. The Nixon effect: he looks like the guy you want to avoid…

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  12. M Zielony says:

    Your points are spot on but the premiise is faulty. The Oval Office is not his target. Jindal couldn’t win the Presidency if he were the only person running and he absolutely knows this. His farcical campaign is orchestrated to a) give him something to do while ignoring the failures of his governorship, b) enable him to do so on someone else’s dime, be they taxpayer or deluded contributor looking for future quid pro quo, and c) get himself noticed by someone who actually could win who might later find a comfortable cabinet or lobby position for him.

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  13. Stephen Winham says:

    And that gosh darn liberal press won’t give him a break. Just peek at this Washington Post article, penned by Tyler Bridges:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/as-he-nears-a-2016-bid-louisianas-bobby-jindal-hits-political-bottom/2015/06/06/26f9c98e-0a28-11e5-95fd-d580f1c5d44e_story.html?wprss=rss_national

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  14. Lenin says:

    He is an embarrassment to the state and the country.

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  15. leekhoury says:

    He is the greatest puppet master to the majority of Louisiana legislators. His role has been successful in that they continue to fear his vetoes.
    Jindal’s days here are as long as the longest hot and humid summer in the history of Louisiana. Misery is the best description of his governorship.
    Nevertheless, the season will change. It”s the Louisiana legislators who need to have the spotlight on them.
    Jindal didn’t destroy Louisiana alone.

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