Gov. Bobby Jindal is about to ramp up his attacks on Republican presidential rival Donald Trump, and Jindal’s campaign advisers tease that his new approach will come as a surprise.
Jindal is slated to address the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. His top campaign strategists said during a press call Wednesday afternoon that he will set his sights on GOP front-runner Trump.
“He’s not going to pull any punches,” said Curt Anderson. “He’s going to go directly at him as an unserious and substance-free carnival act.”
Trump’s rallies have drawn thousands, and on Wednesday he co-headlined a rally on Capitol Hill with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in opposition to President Barack Obama’s proposed Iran nuclear deal.
Jindal, who Anderson said has met Trump once or twice, has frequently dismissed Trump’s campaign as a joke that voters would eventually move past.
But the preview of his Press Club speech indicates he’s now ready to give Trump a bit of a shove in that direction.
“You don’t win two statewide elections in Louisiana unless you’re a brawler,” said campaign manager Timmy Teepell, a longtime Jindal adviser.
Other candidates have attempted to take on Trump without winning much support in return. Frequently, Trump has turned the attacks around on his critics.
Anderson said he wouldn’t speculate what Trump’s response will be to Jindal’s latest salvo or even what response the campaign wants.
“He doesn’t seem to be able to ignore stuff like this, but we’ll see,” Anderson said. “If you get into this, you have to see it through, and I think Jindal’s ready for that.”
He admitted that the tactic is at least partially an attempt to grab headlines for Jindal, who has struggled to break through the crowded pack of GOP hopefuls.
Trump hasn’t lost momentum or a place at the top of the heap, despite high-profile controversies and other spats in recent months.
But Jindal’s advisers say the term-limited Louisiana governor plans to “expose him as a clown.”
“This is going to be different,” Teepell said.
Jindal will argue that Trump’s campaign lacks substance and policy positions. Anderson called Trump “a person who doesn’t believe in anything but himself.”
“Trump’s diagnosis of the problems make some sense, but he has no solutions,” Anderson said.
They also dismissed critics who say Jindal stands no chance in the presidential race.
“He’s eating up ground day-by-day, town-by-town,” Teepell said. “The race is wide open.”
Anderson said he believes Iowa caucusgoers, who the campaign has focused on, aren’t ready to lock in their votes for any one candidate yet and estimated “95 percent” of the votes remain up for grabs there. The caucus is Feb. 1.
“I think this thing will move around a lot,” Anderson said.