March 2nd, 2009
07:54 PM ET
14 years ago

Damage control for Jindal

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Jindal is still in recovery mode after his widely-panned speech."](CNN) – Is Bobby Jindal following in Bill Clinton’s footsteps?

In 1988, the then-Arkansas governor was considered a hot pick as a future presidential candidate for his party.

That was before “the speech.”

Awarded a high-profile speaking gig at the Democratic Convention, Clinton nearly derailed his national political future with a disastrous performance. The speech was widely panned, and ran so long the crowd actually cheered when he said “in conclusion.”

But living up to his nickname of “Comeback Kid,” Clinton helped bury the poor speech with an appearance on the Tonight Show, where he emerged laughing as host Johnny Carson poked fun with a long, rambling introduction. And in a memorable moment, Clinton said the speech “wasn’t my finest hour. Or even hour and a half.”

Flash forward to last week, when Jindal, the Louisiana governor and rising Republican star, was tapped to give the GOP response to President Obama’s address to the nation. Like Clinton, Jindal’s speech was badly received, and some of the buzz over his future dimmed.

But a week that included comparisons of Jindal to the 30 Rock character Kenneth the Page ended on a far more dignified note: Jindal was profiled on 60 Minutes. Tonight, he appears on CNN’s “Larry King Live”.

The venues are different than the one Clinton chose – serious interview segments rather than late-night comedy. And the 60 Minutes segment wasn’t a last-minute add like Clinton’s “Tonight Show” cameo. But they offer the same opportunity: damage control.

Emory University political science professor Merle Black said Jindal, like Clinton, “is trying to minimize the losses and replace them with a positive image with voters.”

Black said that many politicians would have “hid under the bushes over that kind of thing,” not emerge days later to confront a botched performance, as Clinton did. Clinton was able to laugh at himself, and “humanize himself” with the audience.

“Jindal is trying to follow that model,” said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. It’s not the late-night circuit, but he is “presenting a different side of himself, a more attractive and more appealing side of himself.”

Schneider said some of Jindal’s problems may have come from his use of a tele-prompter. His latest television appearances show him in a much more natural setting. And while it was a rough week for Jindal, Schneider said damage control is important because “a week is a lifetime in politics, three years is an eternity.” If Jindal did not re-emerge right away, “he would have been a joke for a while.”

The Louisiana governor used a few self-deprecating comments Monday at a news conference with home state reporters at the Capitol in Baton Rouge. In advance text of his comments, distributed by his aides, Jindal said he was “not nearly as good a speaker as the president. I'm not alone in this opinion. ... I tried slowing down, and now they're saying I spoke too slowly.”

The Times-Picayune said Jindal joked he didn’t mind the jibes comparing him to Mr. Rogers, as opposed to some of the colorful politicians in Louisiana’s history.

Filed under: Bobby Jindal
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. joe six pack

    What about taking care of your unemployed in LA instead of playing national politics?

    March 2, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  2. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Palin-Jindal – 2012!!!

    As a Democrat, I'd love to see it!

    March 2, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  3. Calm down

    CNN, can you please just relax? We've barely ended the last pres. election – it is *way* too early to be making these kind of speculations.

    How about filling the space with some better analysis of the mess we're in, how we got there and how to get out of it?

    March 2, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  4. laverne

    Mr. Rogers is a good person to compare his tone of speech. I couldn't sit through it all because his speech pattern got on my last nerve. He spoke as if his audience was a bunch of first graders.

    March 2, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  5. John

    pssssst, Bobby Jindal.

    Want some advice on "damage control?"

    Lose the GOP affiliation.

    March 2, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  6. Raj Kapoor

    Mr. Jindal ]is the worst speaker than a high school drop out in a developing country in the world. I believe he is worst then the lady from Alaska, the vp choice of the Republican Party in the last election.

    Jindal needs lessons in speech and lot of training in presenting his thoughts. He is a complete looser and a disgrace to Indian community.

    March 2, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  7. Obama - NOPE

    Jindal has a bright future in national politics. He'll be around, long after Obama has retired to write his memoirs (including the regretful chapter about his economic Depression).

    March 2, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  8. Phoenix

    Rush Limbaugh just sent Micheal Steele to his cabin. Watch out! Bobby.

    March 2, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  9. Kimberly in Azizona

    This idiot is just another idiot in the long line of idiots to emerge from the gop. They are DESPERATE, and they are just sthrowing anything and everything at the wall hoping something sticks..Its AWESOME. It gaurantees they are not making a come back, and that they are going to lose more and more seats in 2010. I hope ALL the govs that turned down the money for their states are voted right out on their anti American butts, Jindal, well he is the first to go!

    March 2, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. Gretel

    Don't compare Bobby Jindal to Bill Clinton. That's a ridiculous comparison. Did Bill Clinton tell outright lies in his speech? Did Bill clinton evoke thoughts of a disaster such as Katrina, highlighting a major blunder of his party? Was Bill clinton chosen to speak because of what he looked like, eg skin color, foreign background, etc? Fundamentally, Bobby Jindal does not stand for what Bill Clinton ever stood for. Bobby Jindal is snobbish and doesn't give a hoot about the people of Louisianna.

    The only similarity so far was that their speeches were panned.

    March 2, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  11. survivor

    Hopefully there will also be more substance also!

    March 2, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  12. JonDie

    Jindal is a moron.

    March 2, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  13. So What!

    The Republicans are floundering, out of touch and soon will be out of mind. Who cares what Jindal does? Palen, Joe the not Plumber, Coulter, Keyes, Limbaugh, etc. – what a hot mess!

    March 2, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  14. peggyledbetter

    Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Michael Steele and Rush his name is the Republican party worse nightmare. It's long over for this crowd, don't they get it? The people are sick of lies and corrupt Republicans....this time it won't work, we have finally woke up!!!!

    March 2, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  15. slavs06

    He is still our next best hope!

    March 2, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  16. slavs06

    RHe is still our next best hope!

    March 2, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  17. EVOLVE



    GET REAL!!

    March 2, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  18. Willy Brown

    I see the liberal attack machine is at work trying to palinize Bobby. What are you liberals afraid of. Colour?

    March 2, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  19. Christian

    I replay his rebuttal when I have trouble sleeping.

    March 2, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  20. Larry

    I don't know that much about him,but I know he's done more than work for a neighborhood group.

    March 2, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  21. Zion

    Just leave. Audition over.

    March 2, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  22. Ed, Santa Fe, NM


    March 2, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  23. jedimaster17

    Poor Jindal, he too is exploited by his "allies"
    Parallel indeed.

    March 2, 2009 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  24. Steve in Louisville

    We'll be lucky if we all don't get Jindaled like the people in Louisiana have.

    March 2, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  25. Jillie

    Jindal is just a Republican puppet on a string.

    March 2, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
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