Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, once a Republican rising star who passed on an opportunity to seek the White House in 2012, announced his candidacy on Wednesday under much more trying circumstances.
Jindal announced his bid over social media, just hours before hosting a kickoff rally.
“I’m running for President of the United States of America. Join me,” Jindal tweeted, with a link to his website’s announcement page.
At his rally in Kenner, Louisiana, Jindal sought to promote himself as a bold leader who not only talked the talk but walked the walk as governor of Louisiana.
“The big government crowd – they hate what I have done,” Jindal said to the crowd of about 500. “I am guilty as charged, and our state is better off for it today. We have had enough of talkers, it’s time for doers. I’m not running for president to be somebody, I’m running for president to do something.”
But if he wants to compete in the expansive Republican field, he’ll have to resurrect a reputation that has fallen significantly in recent years. Jindal is now polling toward the bottom of the field, registering at just 1% in the latest CNN/ORC poll.
Jindal’s popularity in his own state has suffered – a recent poll has his approval at 32% – thanks to budget troubles and perhaps a preoccupation with playing to a national audience. His refusal to raise taxes to help balance the state’s books has resulted in deep cuts to popular programs and areas of government spending such as health care and education.
His wife introduced him on stage, the only speaker before he took to the podium. The roll out also featured a couple of biographical videos.
Jindal, the country’s first Indian-American governor, is likely best-known nationally for his flip-flop on Common Core educational standards – from support to opposition, a move many saw as opportunistic as he marches toward a presidential bid.
In 2010, his state implemented the standards. By 2014, he was blasting them. In the interim, many conservatives fearful of government takeover of schools had begun to protest the standards across the country, pushing Republican politicians to rethink their support.
Jindal’s reversal marked a watershed moment for the politician, who following Romney’s 2012 loss, pushed for the GOP to represent something other than being the “party of no.”
The Brown University graduate and Rhodes scholar went even further, chastising his peers for verbal gaffes and unforced errors when politicking leading up to the presidential election.
“It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party,” he said. “We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”
But his flip on Common Core marked Jindal as a man willing to play to his base – similar to those pols he had condemned in 2012.
America may also recall the 44-year-old for his Republican response to Obama’s first joint address to Congress in 2009 – a performance most remembered for Jindal’s awkward delivery than anything else.
Though initial polling shows Jindal is a longshot, he has carved out a niche of vibrant support among evangelical Christians and the anti-Common Core activists.