The to-do list of at least two potential Republican 2016 presidential candidates included “Visit Japan,” it seems. Last week, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal visited Osaka and Tokyo, meeting with executives from five companies, including Shin-Etsu, Japan’s largest chemical company, which has two plants in Louisiana. Jindal also visited South Korea and Taiwan.
A Senate seat has its advantages in lining up high-profile meetings. Today, the office of Florida senator Marco Rubio released this photo of the senator meeting with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe:
Rubio will next visit the Philippines, followed by South Korea.
What all of the lawmakers’ destinations have in common is a wariness about increasingly aggressive rhetoric and behavior from China.
Louisiana state senator Karen Carter Peterson, the chair of the state Democratic party, runs away from local television reporters who ask about her declaration that opponents of Obamacare are driven by racism.
Run, State Senator, Run!
The reporter adds that they submitted a written request for comment, left at her desk on the Senate floor . . . that she promptly threw in the trash.
Every lawmaker says something they regret; what’s kind of stunning is that her race-baiting occurred on the floor of the Louisiana State Senate, and now she wants to pretend it didn’t happen.
At the beginning of his briefing on hurricane preparations, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal made it official: “I will not be speaking or attending the Republican convention in Florida. There is no time for politics here in Louisiana.”
Jindal’s briefing can be watched here. The good news is that Isaac may not be as powerful as some other Gulf hurricanes and tropical storms, but the size and duration may result in significant damage to Gulf Coast communities.
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s appearance before the Republican National Convention, scheduled for Tuesday night, is now a strong possibility for cancellation.
“The governor was slated to speak at the convention in 2008 when Gustav hit, he not only didn’t speak, he didn’t even go,” said Kyle Plotkin, Jindal’s communications director. “He will certainly not leave the state if our people are in peril.”
The good news for convention-goers is that while tomorrow is likely to see high winds and rain, the path of Isaac is shifting westward. The bad news is that it makes it more likely that the tropical storm or hurricane will reach the Louisana coast and perhaps New Orleans.
This morning, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced to Campaign Spot six more speakers for the party’s national convention in Tampa:
U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, United States Senator from New Hampshire and former New Hampshire Attorney General.
Former Democratic National Convention Speaker Artur Davis, former Alabama congressman from the 7th District (2003-2011) who was the first member of Congress not from Illinois to endorse President Obama in 2008. Davis, then a Democrat, seconded the official nomination of Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He recently announced he is joining the Republican Party and supporting Mitt Romney.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, 55th Governor of Louisiana, winning election in 2007 and winning reelection in all of the state’s 64 parishes in 2011; former U.S. Congressman; led the state’s response to the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf in 2010.
Congressman Connie Mack won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Florida on August 14th and was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in November 2004.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association and chairman of the Republican National Convention Committee on Resolutions, commonly known as the Platform Committee.
U.S. Senator Rob Portman, U.S. Senator from Ohio who won election in 2010 by 18 points, winning 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and former Congressman from Ohio’s 2nd district. He is also a former U.S. Trade Representative and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
“This exciting group of headliners includes two successful governors, two outstanding senators, the next senator from our convention state, and a former Co-Chairman of the 2008 Obama campaign,” Priebus said in a released statement. “The perspectives and ideas they bring to the convention stage will show all Americans that Romney and Ryan are the ticket to a better future. Former Congressman Davis especially will give voice to the frustration and disappointment felt among those who supported President Obama in 2008 and are now hungry for a new direction.”
The convention is from August 27-30. Of the above names, Ayotte, Jindal, McDonnell and Portman were among those considered to be potential running mates for Romney. Mack is considered one of the party’s better shots for a takeover of an incumbent Democrat’s Senate seat, taking on Bill Nelson, and Davis is growing in prominence as one of Romney’s surrogates, as an African-American former Democrat. The comparisons of him to Joe Lieberman, who addressed the 2008 Republican convention, are likely to intensify in the coming weeks.
On Monday, Weekly StandardEditor Bill Kristolappeared on Fox News Channel where he discussed an editorial published over the weekend in which he recommends Mitt Romney “go for gold” and select either Rep.Paul Ryan (R-WI) or Sen. Marco Rubio(R-FL) to be the vice presidential nominee. Kristol said that he expects the vice presidential pick to be announced on Thursday in preparation for a bus tour which will take the 2012 GOP ticket to a number of battleground states.
“If you look at Governor Romney’s schedule, he’s got events in Illinois Tuesday, Iowa Wednesday, a fundraising breakfast Thursday morning in New York – his calendar then is clear, so far as I can tell, Thursday afternoon and Friday,” said Kristol. “Then he begins a barnstorming tour Saturday in Virginia, North Carolina Sunday, Florida Monday, Ohio Tuesday.”
“It’d be pretty weird, I think, to do this four-day tour through four swing states – big bus tour, a lot of excitement – without having picked a V.P. and with that, sort of, hanging over him and dwarfing whatever message he wants to get out,” Kristol continued.
“I now believe the pick would be made Thursday afternoon or Friday,” said Kristol, saying that he believes Thursday is the more likely of the two days to reveal a running mate. “Let the guy go on the morning shows Friday morning. Dominate the news over the weekend – very exciting bus tour – with Romney accompanied by either Christie, Ryan or Rubio.”
The Romney campaign wants you to download its mobile app to be among the first to find out who Mitt is going to pick as his running mate, but if past history is any guide, you might want to instead be looking at Wikipedia — and whether any of the leading contenders’ entries are being suddenly brushed up.
Sarah Palin’s Wikipedia page was updated at least 68 times the day before John McCain announced her selection, with another 54 changes made in the five previous days previous. Tim Pawlenty, another leading contender for McCain’s favor, had 54 edits on August 28th, with just 12 in the five previous days. By contrast, the other likely picks — Romney, Kay Bailey Hutchison — saw far fewer changes. The same burst of last-minute editing appeared on Joe Biden’s Wikipedia page, Terry Gudaitis of Cyveillance, told the Washington Post.
None of Wikipedia entries for the current candidates being bandied about by Romney-watchers — Rob Portman, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Kelly Ayotte or Pawlenty — are currently showing anything like the spike in edits that Cyveillance spotted on Palin and Biden’s pages back in 2008. But most of those came in the 24 hours prior to the official announcement. That said, if Wikipedia changes offer any hint of what’s coming, then today might be a good day to bet on Ryan.
I’m a big fan of a bunch of Republican officeholders, and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is at or near the top. (If you’re wondering why, read my examination of Jindal’s first term and the rebirth of Louisiana in the years since Hurricane Katrina, here.)
Over at Time.com, Alex Altman takes a look at the reasons in favor of and in opposition to Jindal as Mitt Romney’s running mate.
The reasons in Jindal’s favor probably don’t need rehashing here. As I said, I’m hardly objective about Jindal, but the criticisms mentioned strike me as pretty inane.
From a political standpoint, the pick doesn’t make much sense. Louisiana is a lock to go in Romney’s column.
. . . as Delaware was safe in the Obama column, Alaska safe in the McCain column, Wyoming safe in the Bush column, and Connecticut safe in the Gore column. John Edwards failed to help John Kerry in North Carolina. Jack Kemp did not help Bob Dole in California (where he was raised) or New York (which he represented in Congress). There is little or no evidence that geography is much of a factor in running mate selections anymore.
If you’re not tapping a No. 2 who can help you pick up a swing state, you want him or her to provide an entree into a demographic group. The selection of Jindal, an Indian-American, would avoid the questionable optics of an all-white-guy ticket in a rapidly changing nation; to some it might signal an effort on the part of the GOP to expand its demographics. But Jindal is a staunch conservative with little obvious appeal to swing voters.
Let me say this again: LAST YEAR NO MAJOR DEMOCRAT RAN AGAINST JINDAL FOR REELECTION. The Louisiana Democratic party effectively conceded the race, with no lawmaker even willing to run just to build up name recognition. (Jindal’s best-known opponent was a schoolteacher.) He has enormous appeal to swing voters, particularly once they get a good look at the condition Louisiana was in when he took office and how the state is doing now.
Regarding demographics, I think it is a mistake to presume that large numbers of voters will automatically vote for a ticket that has a member of their ethnic group. But it is worth noting that there are about 3 million Indian-Americans in the United States, and unsurprisingly, many live in swing states. According to the 2010 census figures, about 90,000 live in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area, about 127,000 in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area, about 55,000 in the Detroit-Warren area; about 41,000 in the Miami–Fort Lauderdale area, 26,000 in the Orlando area, 23,000 in the Tampa–St. Petersburg area, and 20,000 in the Raleigh, North Carolina area.
From a vetting perspective, Jindal has obvious downsides. Among them are an element of his background sure to dominate cable chatter if he were selected. In December 1994, Jindal wrote an article in the New Oxford Review (teaser here; subscription required for full version) that details his presence at the dorm-room exorcism of a female friend. Without casting any aspersions on Jindal’s beliefs, it’s safe to say that Romney — who has dealt with an undercurrent of bigotry toward his own faith — likely wants to avoid a protracted discussion of religious practices that would overshadow his focus on the economy.
I cannot scoff loud enough at any fan of Jeremiah Wright’s prize protégé who tries to make someone else’s religious beliefs an issue.
Jindal’s record as governor would also come under critical scrutiny. As the Wall Street Journal wrote in a glowing profile this week, Jindal “has won plaudits for his smooth handling of crises such as 2008′s Hurricane Gustav and the 2010 Gulf Oil spill.” As I wrote at the time, Jindal became a hero for his aggressive attacks on the federal government’s response to the spill. But his policy prescriptions were questionable. Jindal pushed hard for the government to construct a pricey barrier of sand berms to protect the state’s marshland from oil, and the project was ultimately OKed over the objections of scientists. An investigative commission subsequently found that the project was a $220 million boondoggle that captured little oil.
In Louisiana, the locals are huge fans of that effort, even if it was less successful than hoped, because it represented decisive action during a worsening crisis, while President Obama and most of the federal officials involved kept taking BP’s assurances that their next effort to cap the well was definitely going to work. People will forgive unsuccessful actions a lot faster than they will forgive dithering.
In a way, it’s not surprising that Jindal’s view broke with the scientific community; as governor, he signed a bill that provides for the teaching of creationism in public schools.
Finally, there’s the comfort factor. At the start of the primary, Jindal was an outspoken supporter of Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Nothing personal against Romney, just a personal appreciation of Perry, as Jindal explained at the time:
In the summer of 2008, Hurricane Gustav formed in the Gulf of Mexico and appeared dead-set for New Orleans, threatening to reprise or even exceed the worst devastation of Katrina. “We’ve never had to evacuate the entire state,” Jindal recalls, noting that Gustav’s path appeared to aim straight for the center of Louisiana (Katrina hit its southeastern region the hardest). “We had to evacuate 1.8 million people, the largest evacuation in American history, including 11,000 medical cases.” Jindal canceled his appearance at the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minn. — ultimately, the convention’s entire first night was canceled — and remained in Baton Rouge, ensuring that the state’s response adapted to the inevitable hitches and surprises. When FEMA assets were unavailable to get hospital patients out of the state, Jindal called Texas governor Rick Perry, who promised that every Texas Air National Guard asset would be there in the morning, before the airspace was scheduled to be shut down in the face of the advancing hurricane.
“On faith, we loaded up those ambulances,” Jindal said. “We had to believe. We get to the airport and you’ve got these ambulances there, and if the planes don’t come, there aren’t a whole lot of options to get those people out on time. The most beautiful sights I saw were those planes. We ended up getting planes from Canada and everywhere else, but the first planes that got here were the Texas planes.”
He didn’t endorse Romney until April, long after Perry left the race. Unlike Pawlenty, who has been a dogged surrogate for Romney, Jindal is not said to have a strong rapport with the former Massachusetts governor. While Romney has regularly invited rumored veep candidates (such as Portman) to campaign with him over the past few months, his meeting with Jindal on Monday was the pair’s first joint meeting of this phase.
If the two personalities don’t mesh, they don’t mesh, and Jindal’s people seemed pretty adamant last fall that their boss would rather enact a bold second-term agenda than attend foreign funerals. But perhaps the decision will look different with the offer actual instead of theoretical.
I’ve also heard scoffing that Jindal A) is too short, B) talks funny, and C) needs to be more “all-American.” I just sigh.
Of course, in a Jindal-Biden debate, every Democrat would be hoping, desperately, that the words “7-11″ do not come from the Vice President’s mouth.
Matt Drudge is a master of finding the intriguing comment buried in an article and . . . extrapolating big things.
The New York Times, in a profile of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, wrote: “His fate is in the hands of Mr. Romney, a rival-turned-friend, who is on the cusp of announcing his vice-presidential selection. Mr. Romney has reached a decision, his friends believe, and he may disclose it as soon as this week.”
What makes these Romney friends believe he has made a decision? No word.
So, barring some surprise, completely under-the-radar choice, the list is (in alphabetical order) Ayotte, Jindal, Pawlenty, Portman, Ryan, Rubio and Thune. (A top Romney source already told Bob Costa it’s “not Condi” Rice.)
The Olympics’ opening ceremony is July 27, and London-related headlines are likely to dominate the following weeks. Mid-August is traditionally America’s vacation time. And then there’s the August 27 deadline. So there’s a short window to announce in the coming two weeks, or sometime after the Olympics end August 12.
In the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt, a look at a surprising rebuke to President Obama from a news anchor, a poll of the most memorable moments in television history, and then this bit of political buzz . . .
And the Next Vice President of the United States Will Be . . .
The long-awaited name of the running mate leaked yesterday: Cheri Honkala.
Reuters generated quite a bit of buzz with this little nugget:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney acknowledged on Tuesday he is considering naming his choice to serve as vice presidential running mate earlier than usual to better compete with President Barack Obama.
As they work from a short list of leading Republicans, Romney and his advisers say they are weighing whether he should announce his choice some weeks earlier than the traditional time of around the Republican National Convention, which is to be held in Tampa in late August.
The reasoning, advisers say, is that two candidates would be able to raise more money and engage Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in battle with polls showing Americans closely divided on whether to pick the Republican challenger or Democratic incumbent in the November 6 election.
Jonathan Tobin urges us to not jump to that conclusion: “Those who believe Romney is going to make a decision based on the ephemeral political advantages to be gained are forgetting that the Republican is the ultimate numbers-cruncher and specialized in mining the data exhaustively to make the right choice in business. He is probably conducting the veep search in the same manner he has made every other important business and political decision in his life, which makes the notion of moving up the pick merely in order to give him a couple of positive news cycles laughable. This is a man who is obsessed with long rather than short-term gains. That is why it is likely that whoever he chooses will be someone he thinks can help him govern rather than someone who is, no matter how impressive, unlikely to be the difference in the fall election.”
And during our discussion on MSNBC — yes, I shared a set with Obama’s former deputy press secretary Bill Burton! — Chuck Todd pointed out that right now, guys like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman are already all out there, being effective surrogates and fundraisers for the Romney campaign. Each one of those guys gets an extra bit of attention and buzz because they’re possible running mates. What’s the rush to move from five high-attention, loud-buzz surrogates to one big one and four lesser ones?
Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota — two oft-mentioned potential running mates for Mitt Romney — are on a bus tour for the Romney campaign through Ohio and Pennsylvania, “bracketing” events by President Obama. The pair held a conference call moments ago.
If you listen to his rhetoric and policies, you see a president who is engaged in class warfare, divide and blame rhetoric, because he simply can’t run on his record. He simply can’t ask Americans, “are you better off now than you were four years ago?” We’re moving more towards the ways of Europe, more towards the culture of dependency. There used to be a stigma in terms of relying on government programs. Under this president, they seem to celebrate the growth in the rolls of food stamps, the growth in the number of goverment health care, This is a very important election to get America back on track — to contrast that sense of entitlement, that sense of class warfare, with what Mitt Romney is running on. He’s running on policies and a track record of creating jobs in the private sector, not the public sector. He is reminding the American people that what makes America great is unlimited opportunity. You’re not entitled to equal results, you are entitled to equal opportunity in this great country.
I asked Pawlenty what he thought of recent criticism from the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and William Kristol, contending that Governor Romney is missing opportunities in his campaign, content to point to the economic troubles and not making a forceful case for his own vision and policies. Pawlenty responded:
Governor Romney has put out the most detailed set of proposals on the economy and other issues that I think that any candidate at this stage of a presidential campaign in the modern history of the country — including a very detailed policy prescription on the economy. It features things like reductions in corporate tax rates, 20 percent across-the-board income tax cuts for individuals and obviously small businesses, exemptions and elimination of capital gains and interest taxation for middle-income folks, complete overhaul of America’s energy policy, complete overhaul of our health care policy back towards markets instead of back towards government, lightening up on regulations in ways that would stimulate economic growth, and much more. The content is all there, and he’s out there every day advancing that. The content is all there, and he’s out there advancing that in a way that I think has been positive so far.
Obviously, there’s a lot of work in front of us. In terms of the critics, I respect the individuals that you mentioned, but in polls, the marketplace response to Governor Romney has been very good. He’s running against an incumbent president, and depending on the week and the particular poll, he’s at worst tied and maybe even a little ahead by some polls. That doesn’t account for the people who are undecided, and with the down economy, those people may end up breaking against the incumbent. They know they incumbent, and they’re looking for a better alternative.
The state of the race, the state of the campaign Governor Romney is well-positioned to win this race.
A report by Greater New Orleans Inc., an organization of businesses large and small in Southeast Louisiana, lays out how the Obama administration is approving only a fraction of the new permits, significantly less than preceding administrations in both deepwater projects and shallow water projects, that getting approval from Obama’s Department of Interior takes much longer than before he took office, and how Obama’s administration rejects a much higher percentage of proposals for drilling than before he took office.
On October 12, 2010, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE, the renamed Minerals Management Service) announced that the federal government would lift the drilling moratorium.
In addition to its Economic Impact Study, released after the Deepwater Drilling Moratorium was lifted, Greater New Orleans, Inc. continued to monitor and report on deep and shallow water permit issuance through the Gulf Permit Index (GPI). GNO, Inc. researchers aggregate public data from BOEMRE into graphs.
The GPI documents that both deep-water and shallow-water permit issuance continue to lag the previous year’s average:
The three-year historical average had been seven deep-water permits issued per month; now the Obama administration has it down to two per month.
The three-year average for shallow-water drilling permits had been 14.7 per month; the Obama administration now has that down to 2.3 per month.
The average approval time has increased from an average of 60.6 days in the preceding five years to 109 days in 2011.
And more drilling plans are rejected than ever. The five-year average had been 73.4 percent approval; now it’s down to only 34 percent of drilling plans approved.
The economic impact of the permitting slowdown – what some call a “permit-atorium” – is not limited to the increase in prices from reduced production and supply. The study also found a direct economic impact in the Gulf region:
Despite the relatively limited employment losses reflected in public employment data, this study provides evidence that businesses are indeed laying off workers, reducing hours and salaries, and limiting new hires as a result of the permit slowdown and insecurity about future markets in the Gulf of Mexico. Forty-nine (48% of all surveyed) companies reported laying off workers. Sixty-five (65.6%) companies surveyed reported no hiring or only replacement of lost employees. Of the companies that did hire, numbers were generally low with only one company reporting hiring over 50 workers in the last year. Some businesses have been cutting costs by reducing employees’ hours and/or salaries. Thirty-eight companies reported reducing hours and salaries of employees, sometimes as much as 40% in order to avoid layoffs.
The current increase in domestic oil production is in spite of the Obama administration’s policies, not because of it. When the President and his appointees have the power to increase domestic production, they are dragging their heels and rejecting proposals when they can.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, at a press conference today with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, was asked what President Obama could do about high gas prices and rising energy prices when the price of oil is set by the global market.
Jindal offered a quick, detailed explanation that ought to be emulated by every aspiring Republican president – and every other GOP candidate at any level, for that matter.
“Gasoline prices have doubled since this president came into office,” Jindal said. “For a state like Louisiana that produces a lot of oil and gas, rising energy prices in the short term may be helpful in terms of revenues and jobs, but the reality is if we’re serious about rebuilding our manufacturing economy, if we’re serious about helping American families to have the money they need to pay for other essentials, we can’t continue to have these escalating energy prices.”
“Several things he should be doing: For the last few years now, he’s been slowing down the leasing activity both offshore and onshore. When you look at oil and gas leasing on public lands, they talk about the record production here domestically. What don’t tell you is how much of that activity is taking place on private lands, and what they don’t tell you is how much of that activity is based on decisions made before he became president.”
“The president himself talked about how energy prices are being driven now by the sense of future risk, not that current supply and demand are imbalanced. One of the things a president can do is create a predictable environment for energy production. He hasn’t done that in permitting and leasing even now. Offshore, we’re still not up to normal permitting activity and we’re still not up to normal leasing in the Gulf.”
“As an administration, they can send a clear signal on fracking, procedures which have revolutionized our supply natural gas, that they’re not going to shut this down. That’s incredibly important… Take a look at the price of natural gas. It makes a tremendous difference if you’re a steel manufacturer, if you’re a fertilizer company, if you’re a plastics company. It makes a tremendous difference for those using natural gas to heat their home. It makes a tremendous difference to those who use natural gas to fuel their vehicles. This administration could send a clear signal that they understand that fracking is a safe way for us to produce energy and that they’re not about to shut that down. There’s tremendous concern in the industry. These are huge, multi-year capital investments. Companies are looking for certainty.
You talked about the CO2 emissions that could come out of the EPA. The mere threat of cap and trade regulation… A Democratic governor asked today, ‘Mr. President, what can you do in the short term?’ Some Democratic congressmen have talked about using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Even the president himself said, releasing from the SPR without international action isn’t going to do anything, because other producers could just lower their production.
This president could stand up tomorrow and give a speech to the nation that says, ‘I understand how important it is for us to have affordable reliable energy, so I’ve instructed my cabinet heads to make sure we’re not issuing any regulations that are interfering with safe, sound domestic production of energy. I’m making sure we’re doing everything we can to bring more reliable energy to this country, and so I’m going to reverse my decision on the pipeline. I’m going to make sure Keystone gets built, so that we make sure the Canadians don’t go and sell their energy to the Chinese.’
We’ve got an ally that has been a steadfast ally and trading partner, for us to tell them we’re going to politicize the decision about whether they should sell energy to us or to the Chinese – that has an impact on supply and prices.
Maybe you can ask him to give that speech, since I don’t think he’ll listen to us.”
Jindal wants to create America’s largest school voucher program, broadest parental choice system, and toughest teacher accountability regime—all in one legislative session. Any one of those would be a big win, but all three could make the state the first to effectively dismantle a public education monopoly.
Louisiana is already one of 12 states (including Washington, D.C.) that offer school vouchers, but its program benefits fewer than 2,000 students in New Orleans. Governor Jindal would extend eligibility to any low-income student whose school gets a C, D or F grade from state administrators. That’s almost 400,000 students—a bit more than half the statewide population—who could escape failing schools for private or virtual schools, career-based programs or institutions of higher education.
Funding for these vouchers (“scholarships” is the poll-tested term) would come not from a new fund, as in New Orleans, but from what the state already spends on public education per capita. So every student leaving a failing school would take about $8,500 (on average) with him, hitting the bureaucracy where it hurts. This is called competition, that crucial quality missing where monopolies reign.
“The reality is, the New Orleans public-school system was horrific before the storm — even the AP commented that it was one of the worst of the worst of all the public-school systems in the country,” he says. “Over half were academically unacceptable. You couldn’t get basic supplies, like toilet paper. The schools weren’t safe. The U.S. Attorney’s office had 20 different indictments related to the public-school system. In some schools it felt like the kids were coming out knowing less than when they started.”
The state made a couple of key decisions after Katrina. The first was to put most of the New Orleans schools, all but its best, into a “recovery school district” managed by the state and not the city’s school board. The existing collective-bargaining agreement for teachers and other school employees was nullified, ending the practice of firing based on seniority (last in, first out). The state also set out to maximize the use of charter schools. After Katrina, more than 70 percent of the students in New Orleans were in charter schools. That number has fallen, but a majority of students are still in charter schools, the largest percentage of any large urban school system.
The results at one of the charter schools, New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy, are a stunning rebuke to those who think that insufficient spending is what holds back students. The school, located in East New Orleans and just north of the Katrina-devastated Ninth Ward, is essentially a series of pre-constructed pods connected by wooden decks — not quite trailers, but only a step above. While the facilities are spotless and completely functional, they clearly are minimal-cost compared with those of most other schools.
Inside, the walls are covered with posters and slogans emphasizing that every student should achieve excellence and demonstrate discipline and drive at all times. Teachers are expected to be available by phone to their students until 9:30 in the evening. When Jindal and his small entourage enter a classroom, a teacher gently admonishes his students, who are buzzing about the newcomers: “Ladies and gentlemen, we often have visitors to this classroom. They are here to see your excellence — what you show me every day. When they come in, they see how hard you’re working. They don’t want to hear your voices. You are not distracted.” The students’ heads return to the worksheets before them.
“At this school, 85 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced[-cost] lunch, 97 percent are minority, 15 percent are special-ed,” Jindal says. “And 80 percent pass the English graduate-exit exam, and 90 percent of their kids in math. To give you a sense of where they’re starting from, among this year’s freshmen, a majority were reading at the fourth-grade level or below.” In September, Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network awarded Sci Academy $1 million as one of six schools nationwide that are doing well despite the odds.
John C. White, former deputy chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, is now the superintendent of the recovery school district. “There are other places that realize this is what’s working, and are now saying, we’re going to emulate that,” White says, walking through Sci Academy. “Tennessee now has created a set of reforms entirely modeled on Louisiana. Detroit now wants to enact reforms modeled on Louisiana. We’re struggling in our business for what works. It’s going to take enormous political courage to create something like that.”
“For too many years,” says Jindal, “we measured educational success by how many dollars we were spending. The reality is, if you’re not measuring effectiveness, you have no idea if you’re spending it well.” This fall, parents will receive report cards on which every school gets a letter grade of A through F. Jindal explains: “The teachers’ unions went to the [board of elementary and secondary education] and they said, ‘We think you should give letter grades based on if a school is trying to improve.’ Let’s say one of the worst schools in the state gets a little better, they should get an A grade. I said, ‘Where in life does that ever happen? My kids play competitive sports. I’ve never seen the score based upon whether they tried harder than last week.’ There are going to be a lot of surprised parents. Though things have gotten better, there will be more low grades than people are expecting. This will empower parents. They need to have choice, information, and an easy way to evaluate ‘How is my child’s school doing?’”
Over on the NRO homepage, a what-might-have-been story: Some frustrated GOP consultants contemplated starting a long-shot effort to draft Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, or Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan into the presidential race, despite the trio’s repeated statements that they’re not interested in running for the office. Noting that Henry Cabot Lodge won the 1964 New Hampshire primary on a write-in bid (when Lodge was not a declared candidate), these veterans of past presidential campaigns wondered if a strong showing from a similar write-in effort might prompt one of those men to change his mind.
Unaffiliated GOP leaders were tempted by the idea, but were doubtful it would lead to anything constructive; a candidate who jumped in so late would not be able to win enough delegates to win the nomination, at least in states where there is still time to qualify for the ballot. A strong late entrant could probably lead to a divided convention, but could not win the nomination outright. In a primary campaign cycle that has seen high drama and plenty of twists and turns, a convention fight leading to the nomination of a figure who didn’t intend to run throughout 2011 might have been the biggest shock ending of all.
So in the past 24 hours, we’ve seen New Jersey governor Chris Christie give a feisty, combative defense of Mitt Romney, tweaking Mika Brzezsinki for defining “compromise” as “giving Obama want he wants . . .”
While answering a question during a town hall meeting in Maquoketa, Iowa, Perry forgot about the about the standard deduction he built into his own flat tax plan, saying it would be gone.
Jindal quickly chimed in to correct him. “You actually keep the standard deduction in your flat tax,” said the popular Bayou State Republican.
“Oh that’s right, as a matter of fact we raise it to $12,500, uh, per family I think,” Perry replied. “Thank you for correcting me on that governor . . . not that I ever make a mistake.”
. . . and today J. C. Watts will be endorsing Newt Gingrich. Somehow it’s easy to envision Watts, part of the Republican Revolution of 1994, making a compelling argument for his preferred candidate, without Newt’s reflexive grandiosity and comparison of himself to Reagan and Thatcher.
2012: The cycle the surrogates made better arguments for the candidates than the candidates themselves!
Quin Hillyer kindly commends my profile on Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and wishes for a last-minute presidential bid:
Jindal already has endorsed Rick Perry for president. Party leaders still looking to recruit another candidate might want to consider convincing him to renege on that endorsement. This nomination battle is still volatile enough for one more candidate to blow into the race with hurricane force tailwinds.
Besides that complication, my sense from conversations with Jindal and his staffers is that he really is committed to completing his goals in Louisiana — and while he never explicitly said he would turn down an invitation to be the 2012 GOP vice-presidential nominee, he seems much more interested in being a successful two-term governor than spending four to eight years attending the funerals of foreign leaders.
Hooray! To celebrate Bobby Jindal’s resounding reelection victory this weekend, the editors have taken my article on Jindal’s first term in the current issue and posted it on the homepage. It is long, but I think it is a worthwhile read: a detailed portrait of successful conservative reforms, gaining popularity in a state not known for a tradition of Republican governors. It is probably the happiest story I’ve written in my career; read all the way to the end to catch a glimpse of the Sci Academy in New Orleans and the remarkable results they’re getting from students in some of the toughest situations.
Since Louisiana went to an open-primary system in 1975, it was the most lopsided primary victory in a governor’s race. Jindal overwhelmed a field of nine competitors in the open primary, getting 66 percent of the vote.
The Republican Governors Association released the following statement from RGA chairman Bob McDonnell about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s reelection as governor of Louisiana:
Governor Jindal’s sweeping victory is proof that voters want bold, positive and transformational leadership in these challenging times.
Governor Jindal has enacted comprehensive ethics reform, signed the largest income tax cut in Louisiana history and dramatically improved the state’s economic competitiveness, all while leading the state through multiple crises in the Gulf.
Governor Jindal’s first term has set a high bar for all governors to try to meet, and I look forward to watching what he accomplishes in his second term.
As I wrote in my NR piece on Jindal’s accomplishments in his first term:
Jindal, who often seems over-caffeinated, cites a barrage of facts and figures when discussing the results of his policies, but he often comes back to those childhood friends who moved out of state and the out-migration trend they represented. While much ink was spilled about the exodus after Katrina, the storm only briefly accelerated that trend: For the past four years, the state has actually added population, almost 10,000 people in 2010. If Louisiana can rebound so robustly and comprehensively from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — and, perhaps even more significant, decades of corrupt mismanagement — then perhaps no state is too far gone to salvage. It’s a sign of hope for residents of Illinois, California — and America as a whole, under this presidency gone awry.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has effectively removed himself from consideration as a vice presidential candidate, saying he will serve a full second term after his seemingly inevitable re-election this year. But he finished seventh in the straw poll balloting for vice president at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit, tied with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.
Jindal would add a lot to a GOP ticket, but he seems adamantly uninterested. In his view, he has a job to finish, and like several of the other big names mentioned as potential Republican running mates, his personality isn’t well-suited to playing second fiddle to another leader.