Washington (CNN)As he considers a presidential run, Louisiana's Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking one of his top issues and framing it as a core aspect of the most fundamental Republican issue: the scope and size of the federal government.
Common Core fight a larger battle over the size of government
Jindal said Monday that Common Core should "absolutely" be a starting point for a larger debate over the role of the federal government, a move that sets him up to go head-to-head with presumed Republican frontrunner former Gov. Jeb Bush, should both decide to run for the GOP's presidential nomination. Bush supports the increasingly controversial educational standards while Jindal, who once supported the program, is now one of the anti-Common Core movement's most prominent and vocal activists.
While he rolled out more specific education reform proposals Monday, Jindal framed the debate over Common Core in broader terms in a conversation with reporters Monday hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
"I think we'll have a bigger conversation first within the Republican Party, then with the American people about what's the proper role of the federal government," Jindal said, pivoting off of Common Core. "I do hope that Common Core will be one more, one more reason for us to have this bigger debate, this bigger conversation about the proper role of the federal government in local education."
It's not just Common Core that would help Jindal get toe-to-toe with Bush, whose governorship was marked by a strong emphasis on education. Bush has also been a strong proponent of his brother's No Child Left Behind Act, which Jindal is at odds with.
Jindal's visit Monday was his second trip to Washington in the last week, both times railing against Common Core and raising the profile of the issue as the presidential field takes shape and prospective candidates look to identify the top conservative issues.
The Common Core issue already has its roots in the conservative movement and Jindal's juxtaposition of the issue with the role of the federal government could boost his appeal with the party base -- one that is skeptical about Bush's conservative credentials.
"When it comes to moving power away federal government, that's obviously the debate today about Common Core," Jindal said. "I think this is a good debate and a good discussion within the Republican primary and the general election -- what is the proper role of the federal government."
But Jindal insisted that neither Common Core nor any other issue should be a disqualifier for a Republican politician considering entering the fray, insisting the process must play out and voters should get a chance to hear out both sides of the debate.
He also wouldn't paint the issue as a litmus test for conservative credentials, sticking to calling it "an important issue" and calling it "an example" of where candidates stand "not only on Common Core, but the role of the federal government in education."
Jindal published a series of education reform proposals Monday through his non-profit policy group America Next, outlining alternatives to Common Core which focus on school choice and local control over curricula.
The Louisiana governor is also setting himself up for support from a core constituency: moms.
In remarks Monday and last week at an American Principles Project event, Jindal honed in on the need for moms to have control over their children's education, a constituency that has been at the heart of the grassroots effort to repeal Common Core.
"I wouldn't bet against a mom when it comes to this Common Core debate," Jindal said.