- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and his state campaign group want supporters to end efforts to draft him for a presidential run, but the nationally prominent Republican stopped short of saying he won’t seek the presidency.

Jindal won the country’s attention — not all of it positive— in February for delivering the televised Republican response to a major speech by President Barack Obama to Congress. Jindal also traveled to Iowa and several other states, fueling speculation that the first-term governor was exploring a run for the White House.

But Dan Kyle, an officer in the “Jindal for President Draft Council,” confirmed Tuesday that the governor’s organization has asked that the draft efforts be halted. The letter from campaign organization treasurer Robert Yarborough — and a later statement by Jindal communications director Melissa Sellers — said the presidential draft effort would distract from the governor’s work.

Sellers said Jindal supports efforts to disband the organization.

Asked specifically whether that means Jindal would not run for president, Sellers gave Jindal’s oft-repeated answer.

“The governor has said repeatedly that he has the job he wants, and he hopes to be re-elected and serve the state for another term,” she wrote in an e-mailed response.

Kyle said the group late Tuesday had not immediately decided its next move. He said the draft effort involved about 150 supporters who hoped for a Jindal candidacy in the next presidential race or the one after that.

Ram Bhatia, an uncle of Jindal’s wife, Supriya Jindal, is an officer in the draft group, but has agreed to step down, the governor’s office said.

Though Jindal was tapped to deliver the GOP response in February, speculation on his future cooled after his speech was criticized by detractors as awkward and deficient. Yet his supporters insist the 38-year-old Jindal could rejuvenate the GOP after Republicans lost congressional seats and the presidency in last November’s election.

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