When Bobby Jindal heads to Iowa on Tuesday, he will take his party to task for abandoning principles in favor of political expediency.
In a statement provided first to National Review, Jindal decries the Republican establishment, which he says is quietly celebrating the Supreme Court’s rulings last week legalizing gay marriage and upholding Obamacare for helping to neutralize difficult issues for the GOP ahead of an election year.
“As Supreme Court justices noted, the rulings last week made clear that words no longer matter and nor does the Constitution,” Jindal says in the statement. “And to make matters worse, many Republican pundits are joyful about the rulings. They are happy that the court upholding Obamacare relieves the GOP from having to create our own health care plan, and happy that the marriage ruling takes that issue off the table. In other words, losing is good [from the establishment’s perspective].”
Jindal says that kind of thinking will ensure another four years of a Democrat in the White House.
‘I reject Jeb Bush’s idea that we need to be willing to lose the primary to win the general.’
“This is the kind of defeatist nonsense that has overtaken so much of the Republican Party,” Jindal continues. “I am proposing a different direction — endorse our own principles and stand up for them. I reject Jeb Bush’s idea that we need to be willing to lose the primary to win the general. It’s the same idea — if we can successfully hide or downplay our conservative beliefs, we can win. We’ve tried that and we’ve lost. If we try it again, we will lose again.”
Indeed, in advance of the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare last week, some Republicans had opined that it might be better for their party if the Court upheld the law. Otherwise, they pointed out, Republicans would have to contend with rolling back a law that had already taken effect. They would have to put forward a plan to replace it — Republicans have yet to coalesce behind one alternative — and might even be forced to vote to extend it for a year, so as to not suddenly upend health-insurance plans for millions of Americans.
Jindal’s criticism of that kind of thinking will be a part of his messaging in Iowa, where he is scheduled to campaign the rest of the week, according to a campaign aide.
#related#Iowa is an important state to Jindal’s presidential hopes. The Louisiana governor has, in recent years, styled himself as a social-conservative warrior. On Friday, Jindal blasted the Obergefell decision on gay marriage, accusing the Court of moving with public opinion instead of the law, and warning the decision “will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with the decision.”
“I will never stop fighting for religious liberty,” he added.
Iowa, a state where social-conservatives have often had an outsize voice in the Republican caucuses, is fertile ground for that type of messaging. What’s more, it is a state that has, in the past, provided an opportunity for underdog candidates to gain traction and momentum heading into the later nominating contests. Retail politics rules all in the Hawkeye State, and, as past candidates have found, shoe-leather campaigning can go just as far as money. In 2012, Rick Santorum had little money and little national name-recognition, but he went on to win the caucuses after devoting months to touring the state and wooing voters one small group at a time.
Jindal, who barely registers in both national and early-state polls right now, is hoping to travel a similar path.
— Alexis Levinson is the senior political reporter for National Review.