Washington: Relegated to the second tier of the Republican presidential debate, Bobby Jindal stuck to familiar themes on an evening dominated by two persons who were not even there – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Louisiana’s Indian-American governor Jindal took the stage at a forum in Cleveland, Ohio Thursday along with six other low-polling Republican candidates who could not make the cut for the main event restricted to top ten candidates by hosts Fox News.
The very first question that Jindal fielded was about how he hoped be elected president, when he polled behind Democratic frontrunner Clinton in his own state.
Jindal said he had won two landslide elections in Louisiana and sought to explain away his current unpopularity by his inclination to do what was right in Louisiana, even if it didn’t always please the public.
On his first day as president, said Jindal, he would try to repeal Obamacare, undo “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants and put extra protections in place for religious people.
“Simply expanding Medicaid doesn’t improve healthcare outcomes,” said Jindal when asked why he hasn’t accepted extra federal money for the programme in Louisiana. “I don’t think anybody should expand Medicaid.”
Returning to another familiar theme, he accused President Barack Obama and Clinton of dividing the country and that he was sick and tired of hyphenated Americans and the US must insist on assimilation by immigrants.
The second tier Republican presidential hopefuls were asked how they hoped to fare against Clinton and Trump “the elephant which was not in the room” given their low poll numbers.
Former Texas governor Rick Perry contrasted Trump’s tough talk on immigration control to his own record, where he deployed the National Guard to stem the tide of illegal immigrants.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina suggested Trump “had tapped into an anger that people feel,” but his shifting positions on key issues made him untrustworthy.
Asked to describe Hillary Clinton in two words given then – Sen. Barack Obama’s description of her as “likeable enough” during a 2008 Democratic primary debate – Jindal said: “Socialist and government dependence.”
Fiorina said she was “Not trustworthy, no accomplishment” and Perry called her “Good at email”