Louisiana residents will probably be seeing a lot more of Gov. Bobby Jindal, now that he’s dropped his presidential campaign.
Jindal is planning to travel across the state as his second term winds down, highlighting his administration’s accomplishments and looking to the state’s future needs.
“I’ll be spending some time ... talking to folks and listening to folks,” he told reporters Wednesday. “Not only to talk about the progress we’ve made but to continue to make progress in those areas, especially job creation.”
No plans have been announced, but after spending months introducing himself to Iowa voters in recreation centers and pizza joints, Jindal’s coming back home to re-introduce himself to a constituency that has largely turned its back on him after years of repeated budget shortfalls.
Jindal announced Tuesday that he had ended his campaign for president, after failing to gain traction on the national scene.
Less than 24 hours later, he met with reporters outside the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge and attempted to justify the amount of time he’s spent campaigning in Iowa since launching his presidential bid in June. He also explained how he hopes the transition to the next governor will work and reflected on his nearly eight years in office.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done every single day here for the people of Louisiana,” he said. “We’ve continued every day that I’ve been governor to work hard to continue to move our state forward and I’m proud of the results.”
Jindal, 44, said he’s not sure what lies ahead for him beyond the Governor’s Office, but his family plans to stay in Baton Rouge and is building a home in the posh University Club subdivision.
He said he feels there’s still much work to be done in his final weeks, and economic development will be among his priorities until he leaves.
“My cabinet gets tired of me saying it, but we’ll run out of time before we run out of things to do,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”
Jindal, the Baton Rouge born son of Indian American immigrants, was seen as a bright rising star in the Republican Party when he was elected governor in 2007. A year later, his name was tossed around as a possible contender for Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.
But four years after being re-elected with 66 percent of the vote in 2011’s gubernatorial primary, Jindal’s popularity in Louisiana has sunken drastically.
Jindal has spent a majority of his time in recent months in Iowa, which was central to his strategy for winning the GOP presidential nomination. His campaign had hoped that a big showing in the Feb. 1 caucuses would catapult him in other states.
On Wednesday, he wouldn’t pin his campaign’s collapse on any one issue. Factors included low polling that kept him off the national debate stage and lagging fundraising tallies, he said. He added that he had spent time on developing policy papers on issues such as health care and energy that he thought would resonate with voters, but they never caught fire.
“I will take full responsibility for the outcome of this campaign,” he said.
Based on an early released schedule, he was supposed to be holding a meet and greet in Grinnell, Iowa, at the same time as he spoke to reporters at the Mansion.
Jindal has declined to endorse any of his former rivals, but he said he’ll back the eventual GOP nominee, but added he doesn’t believe that it will be billionaire reality television star Donald Trump.
Jindal also has decided not to endorse either candidate in the race to replace him. Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican David Vitter face each other in a runoff Saturday. Neither has sought Jindal’s endorsement — another indicator of just how unfavorable he’s become in the eyes of many Louisianians.
He said he cast his ballot during the state’s early voting period, but he wouldn’t say which candidate got his vote.
“I trust that voters are smart enough to decide for themselves who they want to vote for,” he said. “I think people make up their own minds.”
Either way, he said he’ll also be spending the next several weeks assisting with the transition.
“As soon as there is a new governor-elect after Saturday, I’ll be reaching out to not only make cabinet officials available, but anybody from the budget office, anybody else — anything they need to make the transition as smooth as possible,” he said. “Whoever is the governor-elect, I think it’s important for the state that there be absolute continuity.”