This morning, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s issue-advocacy group, American Future Project, launched his first campaign ad in Iowa. The ad, entitled “Religious Liberty,” seeks to target a demographic that will be key to his chances of securing the GOP presidential nomination in 2016: social conservatives.
The 30-second spot features Jindal giving a passionate speech at Liberty University, where Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) announced his candidacy for president on March 23, and where former Governor Jeb Bush gave the 2015 commencement address on May 9. “Our religious liberty must in no way ever be linked to the ever changing opinions of the public,” Jindal says. “We must understand that our freedom of conscience protects all Americans of every persuasion. These are rights endowed by our Creator, given to humanity by God above.”
While Jindal remains officially undeclared for now, there’s no question that he will face an uphill battle as soon as he enters the race. In an already crowded GOP field, he would be fighting for support with a half-dozen already-announced candidates, including Cruz, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and Dr. Ben Carson, with other top-tier contenders including Scott Walker and Jeb Bush waiting to announce their own runs.
According to a poll released this month by Southern Media & Opinion Research, Jindal’s job-approval rating in Louisiana sits an all time low of 31.8 percent, ten-point decline from December 2014 which the poll chalks up to diminished support among Republican voters. Nationally, the governor doesn’t fare any better: He’s currently polling at a mere 1.3 percent among the field of likely GOP presidential candidates.
The choice to highlight his appearance at Liberty — the world’s largest Evangelical university — is no accident . . .
Nonetheless, Jindal’s national appeal to social conservatives — largely attributed to his defense of religious liberty, opposition to same-sex marriage, and demand for stronger immigration policy — could help his cause in Iowa’s Evangelical-heavy caucuses. The choice to highlight his appearance at Liberty — the world’s largest Evangelical university — is no accident, and it serves as an obvious warning shot to Cruz, Bush, and the other candidates who are sure to compete fiercely for the same socially conservative base of supporters.
Last weekend at the Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner, Jindal accused President Obama of having a blatant disregard for religious liberties and a weak approach to combating Islamic terrorism abroad. The “Religious Liberty” ad ends on a clip from this speech, with Jindal saying, “The United States of America did not create religious liberty. Religious liberty created the United States of America,” and the crowd applauding in agreement. Governor Jindal is expected to make a formal decision regarding a 2016 bid once the Louisiana state legislative session ends on June 11.
— Julia Porterfield is an intern at National Review, editor-in-chief of Red Millennial, and a junior at Regent University.