Yesterday, when Gov. Bobby Jindal put out a national-security plan through his think tank America Next, it set off another round of clucking among the pundits about his 2016 prospects.
Jim Geraghty at National Review…
Relax, it’s completely not a presidential campaign! It’s just a governor unveiling a plan to rebuild the national defense of the United States!
His prepared remarks today don’t sound at all like a guy preparing to run for president against Hillary Clinton, right?
Geraghty noted from Jindal’s prepared remarks introducing his national security plan, a fairly direct shot at the Democrats’ putative nominee…
It’s about the ideas and what follows from them. The Russian reset. Iraq. Afghanistan. Israel. Egypt. Iran. Libya. Europe. China.
In each of these areas, it’s not just that the president took too long to come up with an answer. It’s that the answer was wrong.
If only he’d had the help of a wise steady hand, a policy expert in dealing with foreign affairs, he’d have come up with better answers. But instead he just had Hillary Clinton.
That crack also caught the notice of Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw…
It’s not that I disagree with the policy proposals that Jindal outlines. To the contrary, I’ve always found him to be a fairly savvy guy with a good head for the issues, particularly on defense and the economy. But he doesn’t need to make such an effort to demure when people ask him about a presidential run. This is particularly true when he seems to be going out of his way to take shots at Hillary Clinton and drawing comparisons between her and Barack Obama on national security issues.
I got to meet and talk with Governor Jindal when he attended the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in New Hampshire earlier this year. (He was even nice enough to autograph a photo of us together.) But that appearance really was telling. It’s seemed obvious, both before and since then, that if the opening looks like it’s there, the Governor would like to take a run at the big chair. And he’s gotten a lot better on the stump than his somewhat lackluster response to the State of the Union in 2009.
I have no idea how much public support he would gather initially if he jumps into the pool, nor if he would carry the support of the party’s various internal factions to a degree that would make him a front runner. But if he’s patient and can hang in there through what will doubtless be a long and grueling primary trail, history has shown us that many other candidates will likely blow themselves up along the way. Jindal has been under the microscope of Democrat opposition research teams for a while, and if there were any large landmines in his background I think we’d have seen them launching an attack by now. (Much the same as they’ve already done to Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Rick Perry.) He might have a better shot than he thinks.
Jindal’s chances of winning the GOP nomination are miniscule. If he gets in the 2016 race, what he’s more likely to accomplish is to put himself in a position to be a sought-after surrogate for whoever the nominee might be, a potential contender for a VP slot and, more likely than not, a strong contender for a cabinet secretary post at Energy or DHHS in a Republican administration.
But he does seem to be getting some positive national notices here and there. And with the 2016 GOP field likely to have an even larger gaggle of contenders, the secret to success might just be the ability to survive into the later primaries while gaining a few delegates early. If Jindal can raise enough money to survive into March, let’s say, and run a shoestring campaign that can step over the bodies of the early flame-outs, he might be able to secure “finalist” status for himself and a big future as a Republican figure.
At this point, though, Jindal might as well go ahead and throw his hat in the race. He wouldn’t really be doing much different than he’s already doing.
As to his abilities as a presidential contender, see here for analysis.