Can Bobby Jindal Ride His Super PAC to an Iowa Upset?

By Drucker, David M. | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, November 5, 2015 | Go to article overview

Can Bobby Jindal Ride His Super PAC to an Iowa Upset?


Drucker, David M., Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


DES MOINES -- Spend a little time with Bobby Jindal in Iowa and his long-shot bid for the Republican presidential nomination doesn't look quite as futile.

On a recent weeknight, nearly 100 presumably GOP voters filled the parking lot of the Fort Des Moines Museum and shuffled inside to hear from Louisiana's governor. It wasn't the four-digit, rock star- level crowd that typically greets front-runners Ben Carson and Donald Trump. But Jindal's audience, which included repeat visitors, was attentive and enthusiastic, and they stuck around till the end so that they could shake his hand and get some one-on-one time.

"I thought it was awesome," Chris Barry, a 62-year-old art teacher from Des Moines, said after the Jindal town hall. "As a born- again Christian also, there's no other candidate that I could support at this point. As long as he's in the race he will have my support."

The 44-year-old, second-term chief executive was tied for the eighth spot in Iowa; Jindal and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, winner of the 2008 caucuses, were both registering 2.8 percent support, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls gauging the sentiment of likely Republican caucus-goers. Jindal ranks seventh in the Washington Examiner's presidential power rankings.

Jindal's message is pitch-perfect for Hawkeye State Republicans.

During the town hall meeting here (sponsored by Believe Again, an independent super PAC supporting his candidacy -- more on that later), Jindal emphasized his Christian faith and love for America as an exceptional nation, personified by his India-born parents' immigrant success story. He described 2016 as a defining election that would determine the fate of the U.S.; and heaped disdain on congressional Republicans. They, not President Obama, are the real culprits of the country's malaise.

"The only group Obama seems to be able to out-negotiate is Senate Republicans," Jindal tells the room full of heads nodding in agreement and shouts of "amen."

Jindal, who has high personal favorable ratings, is tied with Huckabee for sixth in Iowa, at 6 percent, in the most recent Monmouth University poll of likely Republican caucus-goers. That was good enough to outpace ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, the former a faltering establishment heavyweight, the latter a rising outsider political star until just the past couple of weeks.

Iowa Republicans often break late, as they did for Huckabee in 2008 and Rick Santorum four years ago. But the conservative Iowa electorate Jindal is targeting with his socially conservative, Washington-outsider campaign has more choices than it did in the past two caucuses. …

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