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17.7.07

Contrived sideshows unlikely to slow Jindal juggernaut

Both those presumably for and against Rep. Bobby Jindal in his quest to become governor of Louisiana tried to rain on his parade yesterday; that is, his formal campaign kickoff. But it’s unlikely to have any significant impact on its final outcome.

One could argue (as members of a group, of which I was formerly associated, rather unconvincingly did) that the slightly earlier news conference staged by Sen. David Vitter to some degree did upstage Jindal’s highly publicized announcement. Vitter had promised a statement about his apology last week for his phone number showing up in the records of an alleged leader of a prostitution ring, which contained little else other than what he had said last week, and delivered it about an hour before Jindal’s start.

While it might have been a slight show of defiance from Vitter to the man who most assuredly will become the undisputed leader of the state GOP to eclipse him, more likely Vitter did so in order to create further distraction from his situation. If so, it seemed hardly to work as the media were there in force and brazenly insistent on his spilling his guts, like those who attend stock car races solely for the purpose of hoping to catch a glimpse of fatal crashes.

No doubt their journalistic twins waited for, or even possibly some actually at the Vitter sideshow then scurried over to, the Jindal announcement and almost immediately asked how Jindal would treat Vitter and his revelations. Jindal coolly said he had said everything he wanted to about that and minimized the media’s story plans by reminding them this was his campaign and about the future of state government.

Another sideshow presented itself when Jefferson Parish President Democrat Aaron Broussard on the radio show of Democrat stalwart Prisoner 03312-095 said he thought Jindal opponent Republican businessman John Georges had a decent chance of winning if he switched to the Democrats. Broussard must have slipped back into his faulty memory/poor judgment mode of post-Katrina with that sentiment; with Jindal enjoying universal name recognition and high popularity, just because a rich guy who gives freely to both parties throws a bunch of money into the race does not provide enough impetus to overcome a big Jindal advantage reinforced by a lot of money and volunteers – especially with two other competitive Democrats in the race to split that vote. (And Broussard isn’t the only one whistling into the wind on Georges’ candidacy.)

Finally, piping up from the Yat gallery and demonstrating a continuing irrelevancy in the race, candidate Democrat state Sen. Walter Boasso tried to argue Jindal “blindly” followed Pres. George W. Bush and thus was a questionable leader. Of course, Boasso didn’t say what he would do as governor which is why more Louisianans have greater knowledge about his weight than about his issue preferences, and tying Jindal to Bush probably isn’t that great of a strategy since last we knew 47 percent of state residents approved of Bush’s job performance and that probably has risen in recent months as Bush’s national approval numbers now beat the Democrat-led Congress’ handily.

This approach, by candidates, candidate surrogates, and media allies, isn’t going to derail Jindal’s juggernaut of a campaign. It will take real demonstrated weakness on his part in a contest essentially his to lose. The only way his opponents will make any ground on him on their own is to present, in force and with maximal realism and plausibility, issue preferences that clearly are superior to Jindal’s. At this time, they haven’t found such magic bullets. Sniping from below while building castles in the air isn’t going to do it.

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