Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor the Washington Post calls "the Republican's version of Obama," visited Iowa last weekend. Jindal's Iowa trip ignited talk that the campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential has begun:
Already, a fierce fight is looming between him and other Republicans --former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who arrived in Iowa a couple ofdays before him, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is said to be comingat some point -- for the hearts of social conservatives.
The Post likens Governor Jindal to President-elect Obama:
Like the president-elect, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is young (37), accomplished (a Rhodes scholar) and, as the son of Indian immigrants, someone familiar with breaking racial and cultural barriers.
[. . .]
Jindal is, above all else, a political meteor, sharing Obama'sprecocious skills for reaching the firmament in a hurry. It was justfour years ago, after losing a gubernatorial election, that he wonelection to Congress, and only this year that he became Louisiana'sgovernor, the first nonwhite to hold the office since Reconstruction.And now, 10 months into his first term, the talk of a presidential bidis getting louder among his boosters.
Jindal is his own invention, in the mold of an Obama. Born in Louisianaas Piyush Jindal to highly educated immigrants from India, he decidedas a young child to nickname himself "Bobby," after his favoritecharacter on the TV show "The Brady Bunch." Raised as a Hindu, heconverted to Catholicism while in college and later wrote a lengthy,intimate story that provided a window on his religious evolution, in amanner that fairly calls to mind Obama's books about his own grapplingwith issues of self-identity. Success at Brown University and later atOxford University during his Rhodes years led to high-profile attentionin the power corridors of Louisiana and Washington.
Around the country, Republican players have taken notice of Jindal:
Steve Schmidt, the chief strategist of McCain's failed presidential bid, sees Jindal as the Republican Party's destiny."The question is not whether he'll be president, but when he'll be president, because he will be elected someday." The anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist believes, too, that Jindal is a certainty to occupy the White House, and conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh has described him as "the next Ronald Reagan."
While in Cedar Rapids, Jindal claimed he only had one political race on his mind, but like Obama he talks of a new politics:
"I'm running for reelection to begovernor of Louisiana in 2011," he said. "I'm not running for any other office."
"I want to be the best governor I can be for the people of Louisiana. Look, I think theAmerican people are tired of campaigns and politics. We need to getbehind our new president and our new Congress, support them, and stopbeing Democrats and Republicans. We need to work together to make sureour government is successful."
Jindal might continue to be coy about it. But, with Jindal and Huckabee already visiting Iowa, Gallup and Zogby conducting preference polling on potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, and a TV ad already aired, 2012 has begun: