Bobby Jindal launches US presidential bid

2015-06-25 11:26
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal address the crowd as he announces his candidacy for President. (Gerald Herbert, AP)

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal address the crowd as he announces his candidacy for President. (Gerald Herbert, AP)

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Washington - Pegging himself as a rebellious outsider Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced on Wednesday he is running for president, becoming the 13th Republican to launch a 2016 campaign for the White House.

Jindal is the first American of Indian descent to make a major presidential bid and he joins a packed field of Republican hopefuls, several of whom have higher profiles than him.

"My name is Bobby Jindal," he told a crowd of supporters near New Orleans. "I am governor of the great state of Louisiana and running for president of the greatest country in the world."

Jindal, 44, has been an intense critic of President Barack Obama's strategy for thwarting and defeating extremists including the Islamic State group.

He has cut state spending by 26 % and slashed more than 30 000 state jobs. He opposes same-sex marriage and a national education standard known as Common Core, and advocates for the repeal of Obama's signature health care reform law.

Jindal has an encyclopedic command of issues, a weapon he began wielding on stage when he described himself as "the only candidate who's written a replacement plan" for Obamacare, despite several Republican candidates vowing to repeal it.

Jindal took swipes at Washington's political elite including Obama's "apprentice in waiting" Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, and the leaders of his own party.

"I am running for president without permission from headquarters in Washington DC," he boomed, to explosive applause.

He also took jabs at Republican frontrunner Jeb Bush, seen as the establishment favourite, for the former Florida governor's remark that he would be willing to lose some Republican primaries to help win the nomination.

"Republicans must stop being afraid to lose," Jindal demanded, imploring voters not to "hide our conservative ideals", as he said occurred in 2012, when Republican Mitt Romney was seen as tacking to the center after winning the nomination.

A graduate of Oxford, Jindal worked for the large consulting firm McKinsey & Company before returning to Louisiana to pursue a life in public service and politics.

Jindal is the son of immigrants and in 2008, after a short stint in Congress, he became the nation's first Indian-American governor.

Packed field

He embraced his heritage in his announcement speech, but said it was time to stop the hyphenation of Indian-Americans, African-Americans, or others.

"We are all Americans," he said, adding that the US is a nation "where what matters is the content of your character, not the colour of your skin, the zip code you were born in, or your family's last name."

Hours before his launch speech, he announced his intentions on Twitter, adding a link to his website, which carried a series of unconventional videos showing Jindal revealing his plans to his children.

"Maybe you'll get a chance, if you behave, to go back to [early voting] Iowa," he said in footage shot from a tree above a patio table where the family had gathered.

Jindal's domestic popularity is minimal so far. In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released in mid-June, support for Jindal registered at less than 1%.

Bush currently leads the Republican primary race with 22% support, according to the poll.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who has yet to announce his campaign, was second with 17%. Senator Marco Rubio was third.

The other Republicans officially in the race are: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Donald Trump.

Read more on:    us  |  us 2016 elections

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