Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Tuesday that he is suspending his presidential campaign, making him the third current or former governor to drop out of a race in which outsiders have been all the rage.
Mr. Jindal failed to gain much momentum in the GOP nomination race in part because he missed the cut for all four prime-time debates because of his poor performance in national polls.
The 44-year-old released a statement Tuesday that said it was an “honor” to run for president, and said his parents — who immigrated to America from India 45 years ago — never would have dreamed that their son would get elected governor and then run for the nation’s top office.
“They raised me to believe Americans can do anything, and they were right, we can. But this is not my time, so I am suspending my campaign for President,” Mr. Jindal said in the statement.
He first made the announcement on Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Mr. Jindal exits the race roughly two months after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry called it quits.
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Like Mr. Walker and Mr. Perry, Mr. Jindal struggled to compete in a contest dominated by a group of political newcomers led by businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Still, there were some signs that Mr. Jindal was gaining ground in Iowa, where he was emerging as a favorite of Christian conservatives, and was running in fifth place, according to a recent poll.
But he struggled to raise the funds needed to compete in the crowded GOP field.
The jury is out on where his nascent Iowa support might go, though Christian conservatives have flocked toward Mr. Carson. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also could appeal to possible Jindal voters, as could Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who this week received the endorsement from Rep. Steve King of Iowa.
Voters also have soft spots for the last two winners of the Iowa caucuses — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who praised Mr. Jindal after learning he was leaving the race.
“He brought a tremendous energy and passion for returning America to its rightful place in the world,” Mr. Santorum said in a statement. “This is not the last the country has heard from Bobby Jindal, and I wish him and his family the best in their next pursuits.”
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Mr. Jindal did not himself endorse any of the remaining candidates.
His departure marks a disappointing turn for a man once billed as the new face of the party.
At age 24, Mr. Jindal was appointed to be Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. He also served as a top adviser to the secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.
In 2003, he lost his first bid for governor, but won a seat in the U.S. House a year later. In 2007, he became the nation’s first Indian-American governor — at age 36, making his a rising star in the GOP.
Mr. Jindal, though, never seemed to recover from his response to President Obama’s first State of the Union address in 2009, where critics said he came off as overly scripted and stiff. He also was an early supporter of K-12 education standards, known as Common Core, but switched his position after announcing his candidacy.
Mr. Jindal was ineligible to run for a third term as Louisiana governor due to term limits.
He said Tuesday that he hopes to continue to influence the national discussion through his think tank, America Next, which has released policy papers aimed at advancing conservative ideas both at home and abroad.
“I realize that our country is off on the wrong track right now. Everyone knows that, but don’t forget, this is still the greatest country in the history of the world — and every single one of us should start every day by thanking God that we are fortunate enough to be U.S. citizens,” Mr. Jindal said.
“Now is the time for all those Americans who still believe in freedom and American exceptionalism to stand up and defend it,” he said. “The idea of America — the idea that my parents came here for almost a half a century ago — that idea is slipping away from us. Freedom is under assault from both outside our borders and from within. We must act now, we do not have a moment to spare.”