Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor dedicated to making his state’s education system worse, became yet another Republican candidate to drop out of the presidential race on Tuesday. “I’ve come to the realization that this is not my time,” he told Fox News. That’s true. Bobby Jindal’s “time” was six years ago, when a bunch of dumb pundits said he would be the “next Reagan” and the “GOP’s Obama.”
Unfortunately for Jindal, everyone forgot about that by the time 2015 rolled around. His story is the same as that of the rest of the failed GOP candidates: He was drowned out in the press by bigger personalities, couldn’t raise enough money, his poll numbers were abysmal, and he never made it to a main stage Republican debate.
If only he could have maintained his momentum from 2008, when Newsweek and The Washington Post characterized Jindal as the Republican version of Barack Obama.
“The question is not whether he’ll be president, but when he’ll be president”
In 2008, Newsweek’s Andrew Romano wrote in a profile of the governor, “There are plenty of rising stars in the GOP. But in the wake of Barack Obama’s victory on Nov. 4, none has attracted as much speculation, curiosity and unapologetic hype as Jindal.” He then listed the various praises Jindal had earned within the party. Newt Gingrich called him “the most transformative young governor in America.” Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s chief strategist, said plainly, “the question is not whether he’ll be president, but when he’ll be president—because he will be elected someday.”
The question has been answered: never. But Schmidt wasn’t the only one so supremely confident that Jindal would eventually succeed. Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader and more recent vape enthusiast, told Newsweek at the time that Jindal was “exactly what we need.”
“First of all, he’s brilliant,” he said. “Two, he’s from an immigrant community, so that speaks to immigrant experience, period. Three, he’s a Catholic who lives his values instead of shouting at you about them. Four, he’s a principled Reagan Republican. Five, he’s from the South but doesn’t look like a Southern sheriff. And he’s got more successes as a governor, already, one year in, than George W. Bush or Obama had when they ran for president. He’s exactly what we need.”
“The next Ronald Reagan”
Perhaps no pundit was more enthusiastic about Jindal than Rush Limbaugh, who said no fewer than three times, during a single show ahead of the 2008 election, that Jindal was “the next Ronald Reagan.” He suggested in the same show that McCain should pick Jindal as his VP.
That would have been a very different election!
A year later in 2009, however, another McCain got on board with Jindal’s presidential aspirations. Meghan interviewed Jindal’s wife Supriya for the Daily Beast, calling her a “positive role model” within the Republican party.
“For so many reasons, [the Jindals] represent the American dream,” Meghan wrote. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they just might represent the future of our party.”
Meghan titled the story, hilariously, “The First Lady of 2012?”
“It’s a mistake to dismiss Bobby Jindal”
By the time all 87 Republican candidates entered the presidential race this year, most people in the party had forgotten about their former future “Obama” Bobby Jindal. His campaign was goofy, at best: He announced he was running with a weird hidden camera video of him telling his bored kids he wanted to be president; he got so desperate as to film push-up videos for Buzzfeed. But some reporters and pundits still thought the guy had a chance.
In May, Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report argued that it would be a mistake to “dismiss” Jindal. “If he generates excitement once he hits the stump in Iowa and finishes in the top two or three in the caucuses, the Brown grad and Rhodes Scholar could become somebody to reckon with,” he wrote, admitting that there wasn’t exactly a strong likelihood that he’d win Iowa.
And a few days later, The New York Times’ Nate Cohn reasoned that Jindal could benefit from Gov. Scott Walker dropping out of the race.
Sleeper pick to benefit from Walker dropout: Jindal— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) September 22, 2015
538’s Harry Enten agreed with Cohn, however, positing that Jindal “could still win Iowa” based on his poll numbers. “[I]n a large field in which the ground seems to shift daily,” he wrote, “betting on a guy in Jindal’s position to at least improve his standing isn’t the worst bet in the world.”
Maybe not the worst, but still, as it turned out, a bad bet.