As Bobby Jindal prepares Louisiana for another potentially deadly natural disaster that threatens his state -- a tropical storm named Lee that may dump to 20 inches this weekend -- he faces another ‘tempest’ of sorts: who will he endorse for the 2012 Presidential campaign?
The Republican governor -- who reportedly entertains thoughts of seeking the White House himself someday -- is widely admired for his intellect and no-nonsense, hands-on approach to Louisiana’s fiscal problems.
His endorsement would be a coup for any of the GOP candidates.
The first Indian-American governor in history, Jindal is expected to easily be re-elected this November. He is so popular that he has even received financial support from some of the top Democrats in the state, along with the usual Republican-leaning entities like the National Rifle Association.
As such, Jindal has said he will not endorse anyone until after his own (expected) re-election.
Speculation has swirled that he may tap his friend and neighboring governor, Rick Perry of Texas, who has already soared to the top of a crowded Republican field of candidates.
On Wednesday, Jindal told a local reporter in Louisiana: “I haven't backed anybody at this point. But I will say there’s been a lot of attention about Governor Perry. He’s been a good neighbor, a good governor next door who helped our state after Hurricane Gustav.”
During Gustav in August 2008, Jindal supervised one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history of almost 2-million people. He also ordered the activation of 3,000 National Guardsman to help with the mass exodus and was widely credited for the relatively few deaths that the storm caused (in stark contrast to the haphazard and incompetent reaction by government officials to the devastating Katrina hurricane of 2005).
A recent report in Politico said: “[Jindal] had warm things to say about his neighbor Rick Perry for my story today and it's a good bet that that the Texan will command significant grassroots support among Louisiana Republicans. Still, Jindal didn't let on who he favored yet - not wanting to offend anyone during his own campaign. A 40-year-old Indian-American with a glittering resume who's equally adept at fundraising, policy and politics, Jindal is a coveted endorsement and will surely be on next year's VP lists.”
Jindal may himself be selected as the VP choice for whoever grabs the GOP top spot, although it is believed the governor actually wants the big job for himself.
Another Indian-American Republican, governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, has also been mentioned as a potential VP nominee.
For now, however, Jindal appears to have the role of Republican kingmaker.