Gov. Bobby Jindal leapt onto the national political stage Monday by supporting Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination.
Jindal’s backing came the same day former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney garnered an endorsement from former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Romney is one of Perry’s rivals for the nomination.
With his endorsement, Jindal quickly found himself defending Perry’s stance on Social Security — the federal retirement program the Texas governor likened to a Ponzi scheme.
Jindal said Perry simply wants to fix the financially troubled program for younger generations.
“Proud to support (Perry) at the debate as he spreads his message to get America working again,” Jindal tweeted Monday night.
In an email to supporters, Jindal characterized Perry as a “proven conservative.”
“Rick Perry is committed to making the federal government as inconsequential in our lives as he can. He will work to protect us from over-taxation, over-regulation, and over-litigation. And his top priority will be to get America working again,” Jindal wrote.
He concluded by urging supporters to contribute $25, $50 or $100 to Perry’s campaign.
Perry praised Jindal’s endorsement.
“I truly appreciate Gov. Jindal’s endorsement because he is a leader who knows what it takes to rebuild an economy and restore people’s confidence,” Perry said in a prepared statement. “His efforts to cut taxes and reduce unreasonable regulations are helping the Louisiana economy grow, and that is exactly what I aim to do for America.”
CNN reported early Monday that Jindal planned to publicly back Perry. Jindal’s aides ignored media inquires about the report for most of the day. Official confirmation came just ahead of CNN’s “Tea Party Republican Debate.”
Jindal flew to Philadelphia on Monday to raise money for his campaign fund. He is seeking re-election Oct. 22 against a number of challengers, none of whom has significant financial backing.
From Pennsylvania, Jindal made his way to Tampa, Fla., where Perry prepared to debate Romney and others. Jindal talked to news reporters outside the fairgrounds where the debate was to be held.
“This election, I believe, is about the jobs, about the economy,” Jindal told CNN.
He said Perry is the governor of a very large state with a complex economy. He described Perry as a governor who created jobs while cutting spending.
Just a few weeks ago, Jindal stopped short of backing Perry for the presidential nomination.
Jindal told WWL-TV that Perry is a good neighbor.
“I haven’t backed anybody at this point. But I will say there’s been a lot of attention about Gov. Perry. He’s been a good neighbor, a good governor next door who helped our state after Hurricane Gustav,” Jindal said at the time.
Gustav hit Louisiana in 2008, knocking over trees and causing heavy wind damage in Baton Rouge.
Both Perry and Jindal are seen by many as rising leaders in the national GOP.
Perry became chairman of the Republican Governors Association last year. Jindal is on the leadership team in the GOP governor’s group.
There long have been rumors that Jindal is angling to become a vice presidential candidate. When he qualified for re-election last week, Jindal said he will serve out the entire four years of a second term.