DES MOINES, Iowa — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is catching fire on the trail here in the Hawk Eye state, tearing up his opponents in the 2016 GOP presidential primary.
“I suspect many of you watched those debates last night at home on TV,” Jindal said to a room of about 50 Iowans here on Thursday night at a town hall at the Fort Des Moines Museum and Education Center about a mile from the airport. Jindal had just landed on a flight from Denver—a flight on which he sat in coach with this reporter and others who were leaving the debate in Boulder, Colorado—and headed right back to work on the trail.
This morning, and you probably woke up—and even if you didn’t watch the debates, you turn on the news and they’re talking about who’s up and who’s down. And it’s almost like a sports event. And then in another couple days there will be another debate and we’ll do it all again. But I’ll tell you who really lost last night: It wasn’t any one of the candidates. It was the media. It was the moderators who all lost last night.
The town hall crowd cheered.
From there, Jindal delivered fiery remarks for nearly half an hour—filled with barbs at not just the media, the left, and the Democrats but at establishment Republicans too—before taking questions for another half hour. At the end, he was the last person to leave the town hall—talking to every person there individually who wanted to ask him questions, get his autograph, or snap a photo with him.
“If we went around this room and I asked you what was the worst thing President Obama has done these last seven years, we could spend all night just doing that,” Jindal said.
“When he became president,” one man jokingly shouted out as the worst thing Obama has done.
“I got to be careful—one time when I asked that question someone said ‘he took the oath of office,’” Jindal joked in response, saying:
But if you took a list of things—$18 trillion in debt, the EPA trying to regulate water in our backyard, when you talk about a foreign policy where we won’t stand with Israel yet we’re about to let Iran get a nuclear weapon—the list goes on and on and on. You can cut regulations, you can cut taxes. But here’s what I think is one of the most dangerous things the president is trying to do: he’s trying to change the very definition, the very idea of America. Listen to his policies, watch what he does—it’s always about redistribution, it’s always about dividing us, it’s always about government dependence. It really is more spending, more taxing, more government power. I don’t know about you, but the American dream was never about going out and having the government take care of you. That’s the European nightmare, not the American dream.
Jindal then walked through how his parents immigrated to America—legally—from India to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was the first time they’d flown on an airplane, and Jindal noted that “they were coming for an idea as much as they were coming to a place—they were coming to an idea of freedom and opportunity.”
Jindal told attendees of the town hall next about how, shortly after his parents came here, he was born—his mother was pregnant with him when they moved to America—at a women’s hospital in Baton Rouge, mixing in self-deprecating humor. Jindal joked:
I was born as what we politely call a pre-existing condition. Now, my parents’ insurance didn’t cover me, there was no Obamacare—but I love what my dad and my mom did next. My dad went to that doctor, no paper, no forms, no bureaucracy. He simply went to that doctor and said ‘I’m going to send you a check every month until I’ve paid this bill in full.’ He shook his hand and that’s exactly what he did. That’s how you used to do things in America. I asked my dad, though, when I was old enough to ask—I said, how exactly do you pay for a baby on layaway? I mean if you skip a payment can you repossess the baby?
He shifted from there into immigration policy, where without naming him he slammed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for working with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill. Jindal said:
When my parents came to this country, they came to this country legally. Let’s talk about immigration policy. A smart immigration policy makes our country stronger. A dumb immigration policy makes our country weaker. Today, we have got a dumb immigration policy. How do we fix it? You don’t need a thousand page bill. You don’t need a ‘Gang of Eight’ compromise. You don’t need amnesty. What we need to do first and by itself is pretty simple: We need to secure the border once and for all. It’s time to stop talking about it—the reality is we could get it done in six months if we were serious about it. It wouldn’t be perfect but we could get it done in six months. Now we know why the Democrats don’t want to do it, but here’s a dirty little secret: There are a lot of Republicans in D.C. who don’t want to do it either. You got a bunch of big business groups in D.C. that like amnesty, like open borders, like Common Core. They threaten these Republicans by saying ‘if you don’t do these things, we’re not going to support you.’ Folks, it’s time to fire those folks and remind them they work for us and not the special interests.
Jindal also called for an end to sanctuary cities, laying out his plan to hold local government officials who perpetrate such policies on communities criminally liable as accessories to whatever crimes illegal aliens commit in those localities.
“I know in Congress they want to defund them—that doesn’t go far enough,” Jindal said. “I’ve got a partners-in-crime that says this—tell these mayors and city councilmen if they don’t enforce the law, we will hold them criminally responsible as accessories to the crimes committed by people who shouldn’t be here in the first place. You lock up a couple mayors, I bet you wouldn’t have any sanctuary cities anymore.”
Jindal then explained why America needs to re-examine immigration through the lens of what’s best for America—and why assimilation is so important. Jindal said:
For generations, we’ve been the melting pot. That has been a great strength for America. But now the left is telling us we shouldn’t call ourselves that anymore. They think we should be the salad bowl—and that it is somehow politically incorrect, it is culturally arrogant, it is xenophobic to call ourselves a melting pot. Folks, I’m here to tell you that is the dumbest thing I’ve heard. If folks don’t want to be Americans, they shouldn’t come here in the first place. Millions of people all over the world want to come here—there certainly don’t have a right to come here.
Jindal continued by saying legal immigrants to America should “learn English” and should “adopt our values.” Jindal said, before detailing what he said:
I said something on national TV a couple weeks ago that made Hillary Clinton upset, so I want to say it again. We have got to insist upon assimilation and integration with immigration. Let’s be honest: Immigration without assimilation is not immigration. That is invasion. That’s what you see happening in Europe, second and third generation immigrants that don’t consider themselves part of those societies and cultures. Folks, we mustn’t let that happen here. It’s time we have a smart immigration policy that is stronger, not weaker. But notice one of the things I said: It’s not just the Democrats, it’s the Republicans that are stopping this from getting done.
After that, Jindal lambasted Republicans for failing to get the job done—and being dishonest in the process. He also suggested it may be time for conservatives to leave the GOP altogether:
I’m going to say something that may surprise some folks here: I’m a lifelong Republican and I’m a lifelong conservative. But let me tell you I am angrier with the Republicans in D.C. than I am with the Democrats as we sit here today. Now why do I tell you that? Well, at least the Democrats are honest. Bernie Sanders, at least he tells us he’s a socialist. By the way, that used to be an insult—when somebody would call you that, you used to get offended. But he’s not any different than Obama and Hillary, but at least he’s honest about it. But the Republicans are worse. They tell us they’re going to do one thing, then they get elected and do another. There isn’t much difference in D.C., it seems, between an honest socialist and a lying conservative. That’s a heck of a choice. I mean, they promised if would just give them the majority they would stop Obamacare and stop amnesty. We did our part. We volunteered, we voted, we got them the majority in the Senate. What happened? Nothing. This year, Mitch McConnell and the Senate, they’ve already waved the white flag of surrender on the fight on Planned Parenthood. They’ve already given up the fight on trying to stop this bad Iran deal. Folks, if the Republican Party can’t stand up for innocent human life, what good is the Republican Party? At what time do we fold our tents and say it’s time to just start a new one?
On the Iran deal, Jindal attacks Sens. Rubio, Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for each voting for the Corker-Cardin legislation that greased the skids for its eventual approval. Jindal said:
The Iranians conned President Obama, then President Obama conned Senate Republicans. The only group he [Obama] seems to be able to out-negotiate, by the way, are the Senate Republicans. Everybody else walks all over them. So it used to be a two-thirds vote to approve this deal, but then they approved this bad Corker bill. Now it takes a two-thirds vote to reject a bad deal. Why in the world would Senate Republicans vote for that bad deal? The only one that didn’t was Tom Cotton. All the other Senate Republicans, all those running for president, voted for this deal—Cruz, Rubio, Graham, Paul. Now that they’ve got this bad deal, why wouldn’t they do two things: Say to the president, ‘you’re not in compliance, you’ve got these secret side deals with Iran so we can’t let this deal go into effect’ or secondly why can’t they use the nuclear option to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power? What you hear from the Senate Majority Leader is it takes 60 votes to have this debate. Folks, that’s not in the Constitution. That’s a Senate rule. By the way, when Harry Reid lost the 60th vote, he didn’t give up on Obamacare: He found a way to get it done. When he lost the 60th vote, he didn’t give up on getting the president’s judges confirmed: He found a way to get it done. If the left is willing to force socialism down our throats, why won’t the Republicans fight just as hard for freedom and for America? I don’t know about you, I’m tired of that surrender caucus. Their motto seems to be weak and impotent.
Jindal then said it’s time to “fire everybody in D.C.” He said:
Let’s be honest: The only way we’re getting our government back is if we force term limits down their throats. Wouldn’t it be great if they lived under the same rules that applied to the rest of us? They thought Obamacare was so great they exempted themselves from it. The Founding Fathers never intended there to be a separate ruling class that is better than us, different from us, separate from us. Seven of the 10 fastest growing counties are in the D.C. area. They never intended them to have these six figure salaries become seven figure lobbyists. There should be a lifetime ban on lobbyists, there should be term limits, they should be paid a per diem not a six-figure salary. If they had lived in the real world, think how much more common sense we’d have up there—except I’d pay them a per diem not for every day they went to D.C., I’d pay them a per diem for every day they stayed out of D.C. We’d all be a lot safer that way.
Jindal then walked through how’s he a man of the people and would be their biggest advocate if elected—and hit Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, and more.
“I don’t have a famous last name, my daddy wasn’t president, I don’t have a reality TV show,” Jindal said. “But here’s what I do have: I’ve got the backbone, I’ve got the bandwidth, I’ve got the experience to get us through these tough times.”
Jindal then joked about the senators who have given lengthy speeches on the Senate floor—a reference to Cruz and Paul—saying he’s “glad they’ve got big bladders, but that’s not enough to qualify them to be president.”
After Jindal wrapped his speech—as he’s done at every town hall in Iowa—he was the last person to leave as he took questions from every person there who wanted to ask him something. Jindal is aiming to do events like this in all of Iowa’s 99 counties and is a little more than halfway there with about 90-something days left before the caucuses.