Gov. Bobby Jindal had the Values Voter Summit crowd in Washington, D.C., laughing and applauding with a speech Friday that was heavy on criticism of President Barack Obama and sprinkled with the governor’s personal story and positions on domestic and foreign policy.
In his more serious remarks, Jindal, who is weighing a run for president in 2016, stressed the importance of focusing on a “healthy culture” in the United States.
“I’m all for capitalism and a strong economy, but capitalism and free enterprise will fail in a country where people don’t respect the rule of law, don’t care for each other and don’t share a common view of the dignity of all mankind as God’s creation,” he said in the speech. “Culture matters.”
The annual Values Voter Summit, hosted by the Family Research Council, was Jindal’s latest stop on what appears to be a run-up to running for the GOP presidential nomination.
Earlier in the day, Jindal was in New Hampshire campaigning with Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein. They visited a local charter school, where students asked Jindal questions in front of reporters and television cameras.
Jindal will be in Des Moines, Iowa, this weekend to speak at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Banquet on Saturday.
The National Journal has reported that Jindal will be in South Carolina next month to speak at The Citadel.
All three are early presidential primary states and important for any hopeful nominee.
Jindal’s decision to speak at the Values Voter Summit, which also touted appearances from longtime Jindal ally and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, was criticized by some gay rights supporters.
A group of Louisiana clergy had sent an open letter to Jindal, urging him not to participate in Friday’s event.
“Your deep personal commitment to Christian faith, and especially to the teachings of the Catholic Church, should preclude your involvement with FRC, which has been formally designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, because of FRC’s repeated ‘use of known falsehoods to attack and demonize members of the LGBT community,’” the group wrote.
During the speech, Jindal drew several chuckles from the conservative crowd by recounting the tale of first lady Supriya Jindal giving birth to the couple’s youngest son at home and taking digs at Obama.
“My dad used to tell me, anybody could become president. Unfortunately, in 2012, we learned how true that is,” he said, jabbing Obama.
Recounting his parents decision to come to Louisiana from India while his mother was pregnant with the future governor, Jindal won laughs with the quip: “And they came here legally!”
“They had never even met somebody from Louisiana,” Jindal said. “They knew in their bones, even though they had never visited, that it was a special place.”
Other speakers at the summit included former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas; U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky; and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota.
The event ends with a worship ceremony Sunday.