As ‘Republican Obama’, Jindal excites party as running mate: WSJ

June 5th, 2008 - 9:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 5 (IANS) Now that it is Barack Obama vs John McCain for resident, many more in the Republican party are excited over the possibility of Bobby Jindal as McCain’s running mate as the Louisiana governor is increasingly seen having youth and zeal, a ‘Republican Obama’ in short. When McCain went campaigning in Louisiana, before he could begin speaking at a meeting in Baton Rouge Wednesday, he first had to quieten a crowd gone wild for Jindal, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The similarities between Obama, 46, and Jindal, 36, both children of immigrants and great orators, are tantalising to many in the Grand Old Party. Jindal is also mirroring Obama’s meteoric rise. Having been the nation’s youngest sitting governor only for 143 days, his name is already being bandied about as a potential running mate for McCain.

“The governor has been able to reach across the aisle and get things done for the people of Louisiana, help the folks in New Orleans in recovering from the storm,” McCain himself said praising Jindal at a news conference.

“That would be something that I could show the American people as a way that people from both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, can sit down and work together,” McCain added.

He did not dwell on the selection of his running mate, and Jindal insists he’s not campaigning for the slot. But the two have met repeatedly in recent weeks even as the McCain campaign has said nearly two dozen people are being considered.

Whatever happens, Jindal, an Ivy League intellectual with a reformist’s zeal, has come to represent for some Republican leaders the youthful streak and problem-solving approach to government they believe are critical to reinvigorating a party adrift under a deeply unpopular president, the Journal said.

“Bobby Jindal… is somebody who could be touted as part of the next generation of national Republican leaders. And they should be touting him,” said one of the governor’s mentors, US Representative Jim McCrery, of northern Louisiana.

Jindal has succeeded in the state at gaining the support of social conservatives and pro-business fiscal hawks, while appealing to moderate suburbanites, the right mix many Republicans believe McCain must achieve to win the presidency, the Journal said.

Jindal has done it partly by making clear that he personally embraces social conservative orthodoxies such as opposition to abortion and gay marriage — but soft-pedalling them in public.

That strategy, however, may be hard to pull off in the glare of a national candidacy when his views on issues such as abortion and religion in schools would be meticulously examined. He converted to Catholicism from Hinduism in college.

“If you look at him in a glimmer, he looks like a golden guy, the next face of the Republican Party,” Julie Vezinot, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Democratic Party, was quoted as saying. “But more will come out about him and that he voted in lockstep with the Bush administration.”

Jindal dismisses the notion that he is a “Republican Obama”, but close advisers and other party officials embrace the idea.

He has already started to attract the kind of youthful, star-struck adoration typical of fans of Obama.

For example, Mary Beth Crifasi, an 18-year-old came to an appearance of Jindal and McCain in New Orleans Tuesday night wearing a Bobby Jindal T-shirt and stood on a chair so that her father could take a picture with the governor in the background.

“He’s so personal and just very healing, very down to earth,” she told the Journal. “He’s a great guy.”

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