Jindal dodges query about joining McCain as running mate

May 3rd, 2008 - 10:35 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 3 (IANS) Bobby Jindal has set off fresh speculation about his political ambitions by dodging a question on whether he would “promise” not to join Republican John McCain as running mate in the US presidential election. “He’s not going to ask me to run,” Jindal, the first American governor of Indian origin, said at the National Press Club here Friday.

“I think it would be presumptuous to turn down something I’ve not been offered. I likened it earlier this week to like going to high school and telling the prettiest girl in the high school ‘I’m not going to prom with you’ before she asks me.

“I like the job I’ve got,” said Jindal, who became governor of Louisiana state four months ago. When presumptive Republican nominee McCain visited Louisiana last week, the two spoke about how to cut through government bureaucracy to speed the recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

“I’ve got a job where I get to make a difference for my state.” As Louisiana recovers from the economic aftershocks of the 2005 storm, Jindal said he has been attempting to attract business to the state.

“We’re not a poor state… we’re a wealthy state,” Jindal said, adding that Louisiana boasts oil, fisheries, ports and six major rail lines. “We should be running circles around every other state in the country. And yet even before the storms… we were one of the only states in the South to be losing our people.”

In accordance with the state’s ethics rules, Jindal said he could not accept a mug presented to him by the Press Club. But he said that he would donate the mug to the state. “If you come to the governor’s mansion, you’ll see this sitting in the mansion long after I’m governor,” he said.

Jindal had pronounced himself content with his day job last Monday too on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” saying “I’ve got the job I want.”

“I told the people of Louisiana this is a historic opportunity to fix our state. I want to be involved in doing that,” Jindal told Leno. “If they let me, I’d like to run for re-election” as governor, he added.

Nonetheless, Jindal - the son of Indian immigrants, the first minority governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction and the first South Asian governor in the US - has been the subject of speculation in Republican Party circles as a potential vice presidential candidate.

Some strategists think John McCain might choose a minority running mate to neutralise the historical appeal of likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Jindal’s youth and staunch conservatism might also help balance the ticket.

Conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh has described Jindal as the next Ronald Reagan.

Last year, Jindal, at 36, became America’s youngest governor. Before that he twice was elected to the House of Representatives, served as an assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and ran unsuccessfully for governor.

The story has it that as a four-year-old Jindal asked his friends to call him Bobby after the Brady Bunch TV show character. He graduated with honours from Brown University and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

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