Jindal Launches White House Bid With Unusual Video
Policy + Politics

Jindal Launches White House Bid With Unusual Video

Announces run by releasing hidden camera video of his children.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

With the release of what appears to be a surveillance camera video featuring his wife and children, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday pre-empted his own announcement of his candidacy for president scheduled for this evening.

Posted to his Facebook page, the video was apparently filmed with a camera mounted in a tree above a patio, at which the Jindal family is seated around a table. In the video, Mr. Jindal’s face is largely hidden by a branch but his wife Supriya and their three children are all visible. Mr. and Mrs. Jindal tell their children, who appear not to know they are being filmed, that after much thought and prayer, they have decided that Mr. Jindal will run for president.

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The reaction is muted, with one of their young sons expressing excitement about returning to Iowa because of the popcorn he once had there. The Jindals ask their children if they have any questions as the video cuts off.

Jindal had been expected to join the crowded Republican presidential field on Wednesday evening, with an announcement scheduled for 5 p.m. in the suburbs of New Orleans. The two-term governor and former member of Congress faces long odds of winning the nomination, despite the fact that he comes to the race with far deeper experience in public policy – particularly health care policy – than almost any other candidate running.

The son of Indian immigrants, Jindal was the first Indian-American elected to be a state’s chief executive, winning his first term in 2007 and a second with an overwhelming majority of the vote in 2011. However, in a state facing budget troubles, Jindal’s popularity at home has waned, as has his status as an up-and-comer in the GOP.

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In a Suffolk University Poll of 500 Republican primary voters in the key early state of New Hampshire, 2 said that Jindal was their first choice to win the nomination. That’s 2, as in two people – a couple, a pair – not 2 percent. His numbers aren’t much better in Iowa, another early state, where he has been struggling to break 1 percent support.

It’s been a long fall for the man once seen as a strong contender for national office.

Born in Baton Rouge in 1971, Jindal was named Piyush, but as a child asked to be called “Bobby,” a nickname that stuck. He brings impressive educational and political credentials to the race. Jindal graduated from an exclusive program at Brown University with a dual major in biology and public policy. Despite offers from Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School, Jindal accepted a Rhodes Scholarship and studied health policy at Oxford.

After a short stint with the McKinsey consulting firm, Jindal gravitated to politics, serving as a health policy advisor to a Louisiana congressman before returning to Baton Rouge where, at age 24, he was tapped to lead the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

In 1999, Jindal was named the youngest president in the history of the Louisiana’s State University system, but served only until 2001, when the Bush administration named him an assistant secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

After a failed run for governor in 2003, Jindal was elected to two consecutive terms in Congress before seeking the governorship successfully in 2007.

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Given his long background in healthcare policy, Jindal has been very vocal on the issue. A harsh critic of the Affordable Care Act, Jindal is one of the few in the Republican Party to put forward a comprehensive alternative, the Louisiana Health First Initiative.

Jindal has positioned himself as a strong religious conservative and has forced the Louisiana legislature into some strange budgetary contortions in order to be able to claim that he refused to raise tax revenue. Some of his positions, notably on the teaching of creationism in schools and on global warming, have opened him to criticism from those who argue that he is betraying his scientific training. Jindal, though, scores very highly on most rankings of conservatism and has benefited from the support of traditionally conservative groups such as the National Rifle Association.

Despite his qualifications, Jindal enters the race as a long-shot at best.

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