In Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's first homecoming following his presidential campaign kick off in Kenner and trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, the Republican candidate presented himself apart from other GOP contenders as a leading figure among Christian conservatives. Jindal appeared as the keynote speaker at the National Right to Life Convention's 45th annual event at the Marriott Hotel in New Orleans on July 9. With an entrance led by Mardi Gras Indians and a New Orleans brass band, Jindal slammed the GOP and presidential candidates for being too timid on anti-abortion legislation and activism - where Jindal feels Republicans and social conservatives have given up, he proudly boasted of Louisiana's ranking as the "most pro-life state" along with his efforts to limit abortion in the state. Jindal said Republicans "view life and marriage as a distraction."
"They don't want to roll up their sleeves to repeal and replace Obamacare," he said. "If the Republican party can't turn defending innocent human life into a winning issue nationally, we should fold up the Republican party and start over."
[jump] Jindal opened his remarks with an anecdote about his gradual conversion to Catholicism and how, at 15 years old, he began to think about anti-abortion advocacy. "I was a teenage high school boy, and [God] used a teenage high school girl to get my attention," he said. He asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she said she wanted to be a United States Supreme Court Justice because she wanted to "save innocent human lives right here in America."
"I just wanted to talk to a pretty girl - where did this come from?" he said. "God used that experience to plant a seed. We could've used her on the court just a couple weeks ago."
Jindal denounced the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions on upholding the Affordable Care Act and overturning same-sex marriage bans.
"In one week, they ignore the dictionary and ignore the Constitution," he said. "If they're going to become a public opinion poll service, why don't we get rid of the court and save some tax dollars while we're at it."
Jindal also warned of attacks on "religious liberty" in which "individuals, churches and pastors" will be "forced to choose whether to follow their conscience or have to close their businesses or pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines." He reminded the crowd of his executive order to establish the Marriage and Conscience Act after its failure in the state legislature.
"The left is coming not just after our 10th Amendment rights, they're coming after our First Amendment rights as well," he said. "That assault is here today."
His speech repeated familiar refrains from his recent campaign stump speeches, from "religious freedom created America" to his warning that the "American dream is turning into a European nightmare" and a demand that people coming to the country "learn English" and "roll up their sleeves and get to work." He also challenged President Barack Obama to "hunt down and kill these radical Islamist terrorists."
"I'll make a deal with the president: If he'll stop the war on trans fats, I'll protect my own children from Oreo cookies, and he'll stop criticizing America and stop apologizing for the Crusaders and Medieval Christians, and instead do his job as Commander in Chief," Jindal said. "Go and hunt down these terrorists, stand with Israel, and stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power."
His speech closed with a Champagne toast, confetti and a second line around the room as convention staff and teenagers dressed in Mardi Gras float rider outfits or as 610 Stompers tossed Mardi Gras beads. (It was unclear whether the loud "woo"s coming from the lobby downstairs were from a fraternity convention or a biker convention, which also were being held at the hotel.)
On July 10, Jindal's opponents in the GOP field - Ben Carson, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum - participated in a debate at the convention. Jindal had a scheduling conflict.