Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, pitching himself as a “doer” in a field of talkers, has declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination as he set about trying to distinguish himself from better known rivals.
It is a long-shot effort for an accomplished but overshadowed governor, and his prospects will depend in large measure on his continued courtship of evangelical voters. However, several other contenders are also determined to win over that group.
“We have a bunch of great talkers running for president,” Jindal said at his opening rally on Wednesday. “It’s time for a doer. I’m not running for president to be somebody. I’m running for president to do something.”
Jindal, the nation’s first elected Indian-American governor, has a political career filled with many achievements in a short time: A position as state health secretary when he was only 24, election to the US Congress at 32 and election as governor four years later.
Jindal announced his campaign online earlier on Wednesday. Video clips on his Web site showed Jindal and his wife, Supriya, talking to their three children about the campaign to come.
Jindal intends to present himself as “the youngest candidate with the longest resume,” citing an extensive background in public policy and government, strategist Curt Anderson said.
Unpopular at home, Jindal waited until the state legislative session had ended and lawmakers found a way to close a US$1.6 billion budget gap before he scheduled his presidential announcement.
However, he has been building his campaign for months with trips to key presidential voting states, particularly Iowa, where he has focused on Christian conservatives.
Raised Hindu, but a convert to Catholicism as a teenager, Jindal has talked of his religious faith in small churches across Louisiana. As he readied his presidential campaign, the governor put out an executive order to grant special “religious freedom” protections to people in Louisiana who oppose same-sex marriage.
He is competing with several contenders, including US Senator Ted Cruz and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who also are trying to appeal to the same pool of evangelical voters.
He has drawn distinctions from other Republican contenders by noting he has published “detailed plans” on healthcare, defense, education and energy policy.
However, Jindal does not get glowing reviews of his governance at home, as both Republicans and Democrats blame the governor’s financial policies for causing repeated budget crises.
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