Running to the right isn’t working for Bobby Jindal

Jindal’s transformation from a policy wonk into an ideologue has been a long time in the making. George Cross, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette political scientist, speculates that Jindal has sought to make himself the focal point of national debates in order to make up for his own “charisma deficit.” Jindal’s shortcomings as a speaker were, in fact, put baldly on display when he was selected to give the official GOP response to Obama’s first address to Congress in 2009…

Other State of the Union responders have come across as boring or charismatically challenged. But unlike someone like Marco Rubio, whose water-guzzling response in 2013 was also panned, Jindal hasn’t had subsequent opportunities to change people’s minds. Despite that prominent flub, Rubio is widely considered the best speechmaker at the top of the GOP field. No one ranks Jindal so highly. And, as the governor of a relatively small state, Jindal lacks a platform that would allow him to make his views central to the national debates of the day. “Unlike senators, he’s not part of the big controversies in Washington,” notes Gary Bauer, a prominent social conservative who ran for president in 2000.

By “swinging for the fences” with his rhetoric, Jindal hasn’t shown himself in the best light, suggests Chris Broadwater, a Republican state legislator in Louisiana. “I don’t necessarily think his campaign reflects who he is, to be honest with you,” Broadwater says. “One on one, you probably would find him to be more knowledgeable than anyone else in the race.”