- The Washington Times - Friday, September 26, 2014

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal mixed a folksy personal history with a stinging critique of President Obama’s policies at home and abroad in his address at the 2014 Values Voter Summit that could foreshadow elements of a stump speech for the would-be 2016 GOP presidential contender.

Mr. Jindal said that while economic issues are important in elective politics, political strategists put too much of an emphasis on that arena and turned the 1992 Clinton campaign’s “it’s the economy, stupid” mantra on its head.

“Here’s what I believe: As America’s culture goes, so goes America,” he said. “I’m glad we’ve got a free market…I’m glad we have a democratic system. But it’s not the economy, stupid. Rather, it’s the culture, stupid.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for capitalism and a strong economy,” he continued. “But capitalism and free enterprise will fail in a country where people don’t respect the rule of law, they don’t care for each other, they don’t share a common view of the dignity of all mankind as God’s creation. Put simply: culture matters.”

In his delivery, Mr. Jindal followed in the footsteps of another potential 2016 contender, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who spoke earlier Friday, mostly staying away from the podium set up onstage.

Mr. Jindal also peppered his speech with bouts of folksiness when he recounted some of his own history. He decried Washington, D.C.’s “phony environment,” saying it’s a dangerous environment for elected officials. He also recalled his time as a congressman when, he said, “your jokes get funnier — you’re smarter, you’re better looking.”

He described himself as a “pre-existing condition” when he was born and talked about his dad who, without health insurance, simply worked out a handshake agreement with a physician to pay him back.

He also managed to work in a few plugs for his home state of Louisiana — which he says is consistently ranked the most pro-life state in the country — and referenced the ongoing legal battles Louisiana is waging with the Obama administration over implementation of Common Core education standards and the state’s educational scholarship program.

“It’s wrong for the federal government to try to interfere and micromanage the educational choices we made in Louisiana,” he said. “It’s wrong for them to say they know better than parents.”

He also argued Mr. Obama’s handling of the Islamic State terrorist group has made the country less safe.

“Our enemies don’t fear us; our friends don’t trust us anymore,” he said. “Not only has the president’s dithering made ISIS stronger; it’s made America more vulnerable and America [weaker].”

He closed by working in a dig at former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been leading the Democratic field of would-be 2016 presidential contenders in virtually all public polling.

“Reviewing the Obama administration, are we witnessing the most incompetent administration [in] my life, or are we witnessing the most extremely ideologically liberal administration” in our lifetime? he said. “I’ve thought long and hard about this question. The only satisfactory answer I gather is [to] quote Secretary Clinton: what difference does it make?”

Mrs. Clinton, in testifying to Congress last year about the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, famously asked “What difference, at this point, does it make?” in speaking about how, specifically, the attack originated.

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