NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal fired up a hometown crowd with his 2016 GOP presidential campaign launch speech, hammering away at liberals like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and at the entire political class on both sides of the aisle.
Taking the stage to Garth Brooks’ “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” — Baton Rouge, of course, is where Jindal was born after his parents immigrated to the U.S. from India — after his wife Supriya introduced him, Jindal proceeded to decimate the permanent political class in Washington and hammer away at multiculturalism.
“Today’s Republican Party in Washington has been beaten into submission and is increasingly afraid to speak the truth,” Jindal said, according to prepared remarks released ahead of time by his campaign. “It’s time to say what everyone is thinking — the emperors in Washington are not wearing any clothes. In case it’s not clear by now, I’m running for President without permission from headquarters in Washington, D.C. But rest assured — I’m tanned, rested, and ready for this fight.”
Jindal hammered career politicians, who he said aren’t “leaders” but “followers.”
“Here’s the truth about most politicians — they are selfish, and they are followers, not leaders,” Jindal said. “They worry more about their own fate than the country’s fate. They take polls, figure out where the public is headed, and then run out front and pretend to be leading the parade. It’s easy to be a popular politician, don’t rock the boat, kiss babies and cut ribbons, and don’t make big changes. But I will not take the easy way out. If you want someone who will pretend that everything is fine and just make some small tweaks — then you want someone else.
“I will never lead from behind.”
Jindal opened his speech with the announcement, which he also made earlier in the day online, that he’s running for president of the United States. Right after that, he jumped into his backstory and how his parents immigrated to the U.S.
“My name is Bobby Jindal, I am the Governor of the great state of Louisiana, and I am running for President of the greatest country in the world — the United States of America,” Jindal said. “Forty-four years ago, a young couple who had never been on an airplane before left their home on the other side of the world to come to a place called America. They had never seen it; there was no internet to search. But they had heard the legend that there was a place in this world where the people were free, and the opportunities were real. They weren’t really coming to a geographical place, they were coming to an idea… and that idea is America. To them, America represented all that was good in the world, where you could get ahead if you worked hard and played by the rules. A place where what matters is the content of your character, not the color of your skin, the zip code you were born in, or your family’s last name.”
When his parents came to America, he said, they discovered that the “legend” of this country’s virtues was true.
“My dad grew up in a house without electricity or running water, and he was the only person in his family to get past the 5th grade,” Jindal said. “He and mom came to Louisiana because they believed in America. And when they got here they found that the legend was true. They found that the people of Louisiana accepted them. And they found that America is indeed the land of the free and home of the brave.”
Jindal spoke of how when he became governor of Louisiana eight years ago, the state was in disrepair still years after Hurricane Katrina, thanks to the Democratic Party’s corruption.
“Thirty seven years later, my parents’ oldest son became Governor of Louisiana,” Jindal said. “It was the aftermath of Katrina, our economy was locked in a downward spiral, our biggest city was reeling, and for 25 straight years more people had left this state than had moved into it. Louisiana was in big trouble… So we had to make big changes. We had to believe in Louisiana Again. And that is exactly what we did.”
Jindal walked through a variety of the legislative accomplishments he’s had next.
“We reformed our ethics laws. We went from one of the worst states to one of the best,” Jindal said. “We privatized our outdated government-run hospital system, we reformed education, with nearly 100 percent charter schools in New Orleans. And now we have statewide school choice — because every child deserves an equal opportunity for a great education. Instead of the child following the dollars…we make the dollars follow the child… because we trust parents not bureaucrats to make the best decisions for our kids. We did what they said could not be done — we shrank our government. We cut our budget by 26%. We cut the number of government bureaucrats by more than 30,000. It was not easy, the big government crowd fought us every step of the way. They protested. They filibustered. They even took us to court. But we won.”
The crowd of 500 inside Jindal’s campaign launch at Pontchartrain Center near the New Orleans airport went wild.
“Today we have more people moving into Louisiana than out of it, our highest population in history. Our kids are coming home,” Jindal said, ticking off more accomplishments as governor. “And now we have more people working than at any time in our state’s history, with the highest incomes in our state’s history. A job for your family and a paycheck in your mailbox are the ultimate proof your state is doing things right. But of course, there is another side to the story — the big government crowd hates what we have done — they say we have cut government more than anyone, and that government budgets are always running low on funds with me in the Governor’s office. My response to the big government crowd is simply this — yes. I am guilty as charged, and our state is better off for it today.”
Jindal then hit Clinton for the first of four times he went after her in the speech
“It’s time for the folks in Washington to admit the truth — You can’t grow the economy and the government at the same time,” Jindal said. “It’s an either or choice. Hillary Clinton wants to grow the government in Washington, but we want to grow the real economy out here in America.
“Here’s the key difference – the Democrats evaluate success in terms of the prosperity of government. We define success in terms of the prosperity of our people.”
Later, while discussing religious liberty, Jindal hammered Clinton again: “I’m going to say this slowly so that even Hillary Clinton can understand it. America did not create religious liberty; religious liberty created the United States of America.”
A moment after that, he shot at Clinton again, saying she’s aiming to “divide” Americans. He hit multiculturalism, an ideology of the Institutional Left and one of Jindal’s frequent targets, hard in doing so.
“It’s time we stopped trying to divide ourselves against each other,” Jindal said. “Hillary Clinton is already trying to divide us by ethnicity, by gender, and by economic status. As for me, I’m sick and tired of people dividing Americans. And I’m done with all this talk about hyphenated Americans. We are not Indian-Americans, Irish-Americans, African-Americans, rich Americans, or poor Americans — we are all Americans.”
Jindal hit Clinton a fourth time while wrapping his remarks later, calling her President Barack Obama’s “apprentice-in-waiting.”
“It’s time to level with the American people,” Jindal said. “This President, and his apprentice-in-waiting Hillary Clinton, are leading America down the path to destruction. Economically, culturally, and internationally. But the most devastating thing they have tried to do is redefine the American Dream.”
While going after multiculturalism, and hammering away at Clinton before he turned his fire on Bush, Jindal also called for an American immigration policy that selects immigrants to the United States who will be productive members of society, rather than drains on the system.
“While I’m at it, here’s another thing you aren’t allowed to say, but I’m going to say it anyway,” Jindal said. “We cannot allow people to immigrate to this country so that they can use our freedoms to undermine our freedoms. That’s exactly what has happened in Europe, where they have second and third generations of immigrants who refuse to embrace the values and culture of the countries they have moved into. We must not let that happen here. It is not unreasonable to demand that if you want to immigrate to America, you must do so legally, and you must be ready and willing to embrace our values, learn English, and roll up your sleeves and get to work.”
From there, Jindal lit into Bush, and all establishment Republicans, for being afraid to tell it like it is.
“Now, let’s do something different and tell the truth about our political situation,” Jindal said, at which point someone in the crowd yelled, “it’s a mess!”
“That’s right, it is a mess,” Jindal responded.
“Republicans must stop being afraid to lose,” Jindal said. “If we try to hide who we are again. We will lose again. You’ve heard Jeb Bush say that we need to be willing to lose the primary in order to win the general election. We’re going to help him do that.”
The crowd cheered.
“Let me translate that for you, I’m going to translate that from political-speak into plain English,” Jindal said. “What Jeb Bush is saying that we need to hide our conservative ideals. But the truth is, if we go down that road again, we will lose again. Let’s do something new, let’s endorse our own principles for a change. Let’s boldly speak the truth without fear.”