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Political Mercury

Jindal: America’s a melting pot, not salad bowl

11/11/2015

The youngest major-party candidate seeking the presidency passed something of a campaign endurance test Saturday in speaking for 90 minutes — much of it a question-and-answer session — with about three dozen people in the Guthrie Center public library.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, 44, weaved through a raft of socially fiscally conservative positions, salting his speech with references to his Christian faith. Raised a Hindu, Jindal converted to Catholicism at age 16.

“We need a spiritual revival in these United States,” Jindal said, adding that “Christians are under physical assault all over the world.”

A son of immigrants from India — whom Jindal stressed came to the United States legally — the Louisiana Republican said he’s tired of what he called “hyphenated Americans,” people who identify too closely with their own ethnic backgrounds, rather than primarily self-branding as U.S. citizens.

“Immigration without assimilation is an invasion,” Jindal said.

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The nation used to be a melting pot, but now it is turning into a salad bowl, Jindal said.

On immigration, Jindal calls for securing the border before discussing the fate of undocumented residents already here.

He termed the U.S. Senate Republicans a “surrender caucus,” saying they are failing in negotiations with the president, which results in a larger debt.

“I’m actually angrier at the Republicans than I am at the Democrats,” Jindal said.

He added, “Folks, it is time to fire everybody in D.C.”

Later, in an interview with this newspaper, Jindal said that call did not extend to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who is seeking re-election in 2016.

“I think Senator Grassley is a great senator,” Jindal said. “I wish there were dozens more like him.”

Jindal supports term limits and a lifetime ban on lobbying by former members of Congress.

While not referencing GOP front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson by name, Jindal said experience will matter in the final analysis for voters.

“We don’t need four more years of on-the-job training,” Jindal said in his speech.

During an interview, when asked directly if Carson, who has no elected office experience, is qualified to lead the nation, Jindal said the Founding Fathers intended for “outsiders” to participate in politics.

“I think there are some in the D.C. establishment that want to say, ‘This person shouldn’t run or this person can’t run,’ ” Jindal said. “That’s nonsense.”

Jindal served two terms in Congress before being elected Louisiana governor in 2003. He is term limited out of another bid for that office.

Vietnam War-era Air Force veteran Bob Lebischak of Guthrie Center asked Jindal if he would place politically correct rules on the U.S. military to prevent them from doing their jobs in combat zones.

“I don’t want our military ever to be in a fair fight,” Jindal said.

He added, “Take the political handcuffs off the military.”

Another audience member said he’d grown up watching “Donna Reed” and “Father Knows Best” — and that the nation is far cry from that today.

“I’m scared to just turn on the radio without knowing what’s going on,” Jindal said.

Jindal said big government has even reached into the school lunches of young schoolchildren. He said the federally directed lunch program leaves his own kids hungry during school. His wife, Supriya, has taken to bringing snacks for their kids when she picks them up.

“It’s pretty bad when you have to bring groceries to pick your kids up at school,” Jindal said.

Myrna Beeber, chairwoman of the Guthrie County Republican Party, said she wished Jindal was higher in the polls.

“He’s one of the more conservative of all of those running,” Beeber said. “He has turned Louisiana into a much, much more conservative state than it was before he became governor and I’d like to see him doing better in the polls.”

Actually, Jindal is.

According to a Public Policy Polling survey Jindal is in fifth place among “usual” Iowa Republican voters at 6 percent. Trump and Carson lead that poll, taken in late October and early November, with 22 percent and 21 percent respectively. CV

Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who resides in Carroll. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.

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