Over the weekend Louisiana’s governor, who has been mentioned ad nauseam as a potential vice presidential candidate on Mitt Romney’s ticket, gave some support to another of the oft-mentioned hopefuls.
Paul Ryan’s got a friend in Bobby Jindal.
Jindal, governor of Louisiana, told an audience of conservative activists on Saturday that presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney would send a “powerful message” on budgetary issues were he to choose Ryan, Wisconsin’s U.S. House representative, as his running mate.
The remarks came as Jindal – a buzzed-about veep prospect himself – wrapped up a keynote address to the Red State Gathering in Jacksonville, an annual conference of Tea Party and other conservative activist groups.
“I think picking somebody like a Paul Ryan would send a very powerful message that this administration was serious about Medicare reform, entitlement reform, shrinking the size of government, and doing so in a courageous way,” Jindal said of a Romney presidency.
Jindal’s endorsement of Ryan was one among a number of indications that the House Budget Committee chairman is moving up as a possibility. And his endorsement of Ryan – an active candidate for the job – also indicates Jindal doesn’t believe he’s going to be chosen. Either that or he doesn’t really want to be VP.
There’s a school of thought which has it that Jindal doesn’t really believe Romney can win, and as such he doesn’t want to be tarnished as Romney’s VP candidate. We think that school of thought is nonsense, but it’s out there. Another school of thought says that Jindal would prefer to be Secretary of Energy, Education or Health and Human Services, where he has some policy expertise that could be brought to the table in Washington to implement some of the Republican Party’s more high-profile initiatives – school choice on a national level, promotion of oil and gas drilling on federal lands or the undoing and replacement of Obamacare.
But if he really thought he’d be the VP candidate, Jindal wouldn’t want to endorse somebody viable like Ryan. He’d want to throw out a name nobody is thinking about. He’d say Mitch Daniels, or Alan Simpson, or Dick Armey or Fred Thompson. By doing that he’d communicate the emphasis he wanted to put on fiscal matters, or free markets, or whatever, but without endorsing a competitor for the job.
Because to do so would look dumb, and it would be reminiscent of Joe Biden circa 2008…
The last thing Jindal wants to do is to give people reason to think he’s Joe Biden. That would be difficult, of course, since Jindal comes off as off-puttingly intelligent while Biden comes off as a dunce, but as a VP you’d want to accentuate the difference rather than giving the Democrats a way to draw parallels between the two.
Since Jindal doesn’t make too many political mistakes, we’ll interpret his kind words for Ryan as an indication of honest support. And since Ryan’s name is now being thrown around with increasing frequency, it’s a conspicious indication indeed.
One final tidbit, though: The GOP released its first roster of headliners for the Republican Convention, and neither Jindal nor Ryan are on the list. Neither are Rob Portman nor Tim Pawlenty nor Marco Rubio. That’s an indication of who’s still in the running.