Catholic convert and son of immigrants has steep climb to gain nomination
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is the latest Republican to join an already crowded field of candidates for president. Jindal revealed the news on Twitter and on his campaign website Wednesday morning and is expected to give an announcement speech Wednesday afternoon in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, La.
Jindal, 44, is the first Indian-American to run for president. He was the first Indian-American governor of a US state when he was elected in October 2007. His tenure as governor has suffered from a budget shortfall and the perception among voters that he is ignoring duties at home to focus on national politics. Outside the Pelican State and conservative circles, he lacks name recognition, and his poor showing in public surveys so far may mean he doesn’t get a shot at the national platform the upcoming presidential debates would provide. Fox News and CNN are limiting the first two major debates to candidates who rank in the top 10 in national polls, and Jindal has been polling around 1%.
Jindal was raised by Hindu parents but converted to Catholicism. On his campaign website he gives a quick overview of his faith journey:
Bobby was raised Hindu, and converted to Christianity in high school. When he received a personalized Bible as a birthday present he dismissed it as a boring gift that he couldn’t even re-gift. Friends grew tired of trying to convert him, but they didn’t give up. Throughout high school, Bobby wrestled with the Lord and the work that He was doing in his life. He dug out his Bible and read it cover to cover. In high school, while watching a grainy film about the Crucifixion of Jesus, Bobby surrendered his life to Christ and has never looked back.
He has written several articles about his spiritual journey that were published in the New Oxford Review.
In politics, he "supports abortion restrictions, has raised doubts about evolution and signed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which critics say opened a back door to teaching creationism in public schools," the New York Times summed up. Jindal opposes same-sex "marriage." In May, he issued an executive order that he said would protect those who do not support same-sex "marriage." It was issued just hours after a bill to that effect was sidelined in the Louisiana Legislature.
While serving in the House of Representatives from 2005-2008, he supported two bills to prohibit transporting minors across state lines to obtain an abortion. The bills aimed to prevent doctors and others from helping a minor avoid parental notification laws in their home state by procuring an abortion in another state. He has voted against expanding public funding of embryonic stem cell research.
In Congress, he also voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment to restrict marriage to a union between one man and one woman. In December 2008, Jindal announced the formation of the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family. Following the 2013 Supreme Court’s rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8, he said: "I believe every child deserves a mom and a dad. This opinion leaves the matter of marriage to the states where people can decide. In Louisiana, we will opt for traditional marriage. How about we let the people decide for themselves, via their representatives and via referendum?"
Jindal signed a law that permits teachers at public schools to supplement standard evolutionary curricula with analysis and critiques that may include intelligent design.
On the foreign policy front, Jindal has been critical of President Obama’s handling of the Islamic State threat. The governor charges that the president has not come up with a comprehensive plan to destroy the militant group, the Times pointed out. “We want our military leaders to do whatever it takes, not to degrade, contain or expel, but to hunt down and kill these radical Islamic terrorists,” he said.
Jindal, whose parents came to the US from the Indian state of Punjab right before he was born, says the United States should focus on attracting highly skilled foreign workers. “One of the dumbest things we do right now is the number of people with advanced degrees we kick out to go and compete for other countries,” he has said.
But he says border security must be strengthened to prevent illegal immigration. He has likened immigration by Muslims to an “invasion,” according to the Times, and he proposed to block entry to people “who want to come and try to impose some variant of Shariah law.”