With former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney taking a major step at the Iowa caucuses toward the Republican Presidential nomination, it’s only a matter of time until the national media begins the buzz speculating on the possibility of Romney picking Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as his running mate.
Of course, Romney hasn’t locked up the nomination yet. He could slip up in South Carolina or Florida, giving arch-rival former House Speaker Newt Gingrich a shot at him. But you wouldn’t want to bet your ranch that former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum or U.S. Rep. Ron Paul or Gingrich is going to stop Romney. It is true that the conventional wisdom, which may not be worth much at this point, is that Romney is thinking of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida as his vice presidential teammate. That is probably true, but surely Governor Jindal’s name is among the top four or five possibilities, perhaps even the top three possibilities.
It is also true that Gov. Jindal has said he intends to serve out his second term and perhaps he will. Perhaps if he’s offered the Vice Presidential nomination, Jindal will reply, “Thank you very much, but I’ve promised the people of Louisiana that I will serve the full four years of my second term in office. I’ve pledged that I will complete the reform of Louisiana’s public education system.” But the chance to be a heartbeat from the Presidency, the opportunity to be a confidante of the President isn’t easily turned down – in the event that it is offered.
By coincidence, Gov. Jindal will be sworn in Monday for his second term just before the day’s number one media event, the BCS National Championship. Also being sworn in as Lt. Gov. is Jay Dardenne, who has more than a passing interest in what takes place in the Republican Presidential sweepstakes.
Up to this point, Gov. Jindal has been faithfully supporting the Presidential bid of his Texas friend Rick Perry. But as Gov. Perry’s chances sink slowly into quicksand, it will be interesting to see if Gov. Jindal changes his alliance. It will also be interesting to see how Romney, Gingrich, Paul and Santorum do in the March 16 Louisiana Presidential preference primary. In part because of his geographic closeness as a Texas congressman, Paul has a loyal Louisiana following who will surely cast their ballots for him. The question will surely be can Romney run first in Louisiana, which surely has one of the most conservative Republican parties in the nation. (Uptown voters, regardless of party affiliation, will want to turn out on March 16 because that’s also the date of the primary to fill the Council-at-large seat vacated by the departure of Arnie Fielkow.)
But from Louisiana’s standpoint, the possibility of Jindal on the ticket is certainly the big news. There isn’t much question that Louisiana is going to support the Republican nominee. Not since the days of Bill Clinton has a Democrat had a chance to carry this state. Since then, Louisiana has become one of the nation’s reddest states. Even if Jindal isn’t the choice for the Vice Presidential slot, he will certainly be considered a candidate for a Cabinet post unless he gives the speech that goes, “No thank you. It’s a great honor but my heart belongs to Louisiana.”
Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, state Rep. Robert Billiot and judicial candidate Kris Kiefer.