The piece speculates about whether Republican Jindal will position himself for a potential vice presidential nomination slot in 2012. He reviews my logic about why Jindal is unlikely to run for president in 2012 – a constrained election calendar, additional benefits of serving two terms as governor, and the chancy nature of running against an incumbent (although he failed to note that this holds true even against a damaged incumbent, which I forecasted about Pres. Barack Obama even before he took office and which is coming to pass) – and also agrees with me that former candidate and governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney might be the guy to hook up with.
Romano takes the Romney angle and runs further with it, showing how Romney appears to favor Jindal and interaction between the two. In fact, given the demographics of various GOP hopefuls for 2012, most are in Jindal’s age range and would have been governors, so they probably would pick a running mate with more national experience and wrinkled craniums than Jindal; besides former candidate and governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee whose economic populism will be in deep disfavor after four years of Obama, only Romney fits the profile of a candidate that would pick someone with Jindal’s profile.
In case Romney does capture the nomination next time, another thing may favor Jindal’s selection even more compellingly: Democrat Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu is the likeliest winner of the upcoming New Orleans’ mayor’s race and thereby with his exit to take that job probably means a Republican lieutenant governor will be present by the time Jindal would have to jump ship if getting elected in 2012. That’s one less discouragement to keep Jindal from leaving the national sidelines, knowing a Democrat and especially one with the surname of Landrieu won’t be sliding into the Governor’s Mansion as a result.
And yet another contingency works for Jindal on this account: if he can guide Louisiana through some tough budgetary times through his first term, he will gain major credit and maybe even a brighter 2012 economically and fiscally within the state – perhaps by some of his very deeds – could allow him a first year of a second term to spread a little cheer with moves such as tax cuts. The publicity from being able to manage the state without much pain in bad times and delivering on a conservative agenda in the good would make him even more attractive on a ticket.
If elected, it’s obvious where conceivably he could go from there. If not, a piece of historical risk remains for this strategy – only one president in the modern campaign period ever won the office after having participated in a losing vice presidential candidacy, and it took a depression to do it. Still, it’s a risk most politicians would take. From the other side of the equation, a reason that a presidential nominee might not take him would be he does not come from a swing state where a running mate could be used to move some electoral votes into the GOP column.
Still, what Romano wrote recently is as plausible as when I wrote it six months ago. Jindal may have this as an ultimate middle-term strategy that will hinge on his (very likely) reelection in 2011, and having the party pick the right guy to lead the way in 2012. If so, in the near-term look for him to continue with party-building efforts on his trips out of state, a prominent role in an upcoming Republican meeting in April (already listed as an invited speaker), and continued interaction with Romney.