I’m up in New Hampshire this weekend, attending the 2014 Northeast Republican Leadership Conference, and thus far it’s been pretty rocking event. One of many dignitaries appearing at the gathering is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who has been hitting multiple events here, ranging from a St. Patrick’s day themed breakfast, a cocktail reception and a speaking engagement at dinner. Is he planning a run at the White House? Like every other potential candidate at this point, he’s not coming straight out and saying it, but he certainly has the look. (And why else do you come to New Hampshire?)
I got the chance to talk to the Governor for a bit myself and really enjoyed his dinner speech. One thing I noticed right away is that Jindal seems a lot more comfortable speaking away from his home turf than some of his appearances from a few years ago. He was confident, poised, seemingly at ease with the crowds and demonstrated a great sense of humor. This was evident at the aforementioned breakfast and the media was taking note of it.
From the first line of his speech to the Wild Irish Breakfast in Nashua, New Hampshire on Friday (March 14) morning, Gov. Bobby Jindal has the crowd in stitches.
“I would like to start this morning by congratulating the genius who invited me to speak at a St. Patty’s day event,” Jindal, an Indian-American, said to raucous laughter. “Let me suggest that a quick Google image search would reveal that I’m not Irish. Worse than that I don’t even drink. I am Catholic so we’ll hope that counts for something.”
Jindal continued to draw big laughs from the assembled crowd of businesspeople, policymakers and local politicians, joking about former Gov. Edwin Edwards, Louisianians’ penchant for hunting and even rumors of his intention to run for the White House in 2016.
“A lot of people are asking me if I intend to run for president in 2016. The answer is I have no plans at this time to run. I’ve made that clear. And I will come here again and again to the state of New Hampshire to say that over and over,” said Jindal.
During dinner, Jindal spent a lot of time talking about education in a far more serious tone, and the crowd was completely behind him, interrupting the Governor with standing ovations multiple times during his remarks. He touched on the glaring difference between conservative states and liberal ones when it comes to options in education. (It’s rather funny that Democrats are all about “choice” until you mention schools, isn’t it?) He was able to speak to the subject by relating it to his own experiences, being particularly grateful for the choices available to him in getting a good American education and the opportunities it afforded him and his family.
I should have some more hits with other speakers later this weekend, and there is plenty going on. I’ve had the chance to speak with a number of the state party officials, and thus far they all live up to the feisty, independent attitude that New Hampshire Republicans are famous for. They’ve also been exceedingly courteous to their visitors and seem ready to jump right back into the political mix. But we’ll have more on that later.