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. Katie

    His speech was written by Rush Limbaugh and edited by Carl Rove. Enough said.

    March 2, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  2. Lane

    When you idolize Rush Limbaugh and declare him your "God" I don't think you have a chance at anything.

    March 2, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  3. ROC

    Master Voodoo trying to hypnotize America and failed. Haha

    March 2, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  4. Sheri

    The speech is terrible and so is he.

    March 2, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  5. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    Gov. Jindal may have what it takes to be a "Comeback Kid", but the party that is following Rush and certain other racists and right wing-nuts may not do so well, because the people are seeing through much of their hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness, although dressed up in the skirt of conservatism.

    March 2, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  6. tom

    i don't know, there wasn't youtube back in 1988................

    March 2, 2009 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  7. dont drop the soap Rush

    Mr.Jindal doesnt stand a chance,poor guy.Now that Limbaugh has been proclaimed King of the republicans,lets do some real vetting of his finances,offshore accts etc.and see who really pays him.He is no longer a private citizen,he is the self proclaimed leader of millions of people.

    March 2, 2009 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  8. Kim

    I thought he was awesome.
    I really liked the part where he lied about Katrina.
    That was great.

    March 2, 2009 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  9. Mike

    No matter how good or bad the delivery was, there is still the minor matter of the miserable content and off-track message. You can improve the delivery, you can put lipstick on a pig, but..... well, you know the story.

    March 2, 2009 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  10. Lush Limprick is the HEAD of the Republican NAZI Committee!

    Careful, Jindal or you will have to get out the kneepads and worship at the alter of the bald bloated bonehead, just like the ex-head of the RNC was humiliated into doing on Monday night. Of course, in most voters mind this, has relegated Steele to an impotent token(some of us had already known about the token part, this just reinforced it0 leader,. Then there was the Georgia congressman who had to butt snorkel for forgiveness. Cantor’s explanation of how his comments about not wanting failure for Obama were taken “out of context “will make the score Rush 3 and RNC 0.

    You boys of color better toe the line and remember you two are only in this repub gig to fill the roles of "step" and "fetch it" and only as long as Jabba the Hut enjoys the worship service. Otherwise, he will cut you loose for the price of a shopped script for Vicodin!

    Of course, you could be better at the act of worship than Steele apparently was...

    March 2, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  11. dmott

    I notice that he didn't mention the fact that portions of his speech were outright lies. I also noticed that most news stations including this one omitted that fact. Where has honest and full reporting gone?

    March 2, 2009 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  12. Carl from MI

    It's over...

    His run for the Repub candidacy for POTUS is over before it even started!!!

    March 2, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  13. Alicia

    How about the rail system that he said was pork? NOW, he wants $110 Billion to put a rail system in Louisianna. LOL

    He is the Krypt Keeper.

    March 2, 2009 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  14. abdul S

    First impression did not meet the test and both message delivery and the style were poor. I think that it was a suicide mission without recovery in his personality and his future in 2012. It is always hard to match a President Obama with high approval rating and such a brilliant gifted oratory skills. If Jindal is what the GOP is offering is just like drought stricken area waiting and praying for a rain. Even now, there is dispute going on about the GOP leadership whether it is STEELS or RUSH. This party is doomed to fail and will be marginalized next election.

    March 2, 2009 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  15. d in fl

    I used to like him. But i guess politics changes the man the man dont change the politics.

    March 2, 2009 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  16. Proud American

    The RNC plan to lock this Idiot in a closet and never let him out again and that will fix the problem. Americans will once again fall in love with Republican Idiots and all will be well in America. The sad facts are: Once again the republican party has shown Americans in "PRIME TIME" what they have to offer and their solution to fix our country. As aloyal demorcat I say thank you republicans and I'm happy to see you have the ability to pull from your garbage another moron.

    March 2, 2009 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  17. Mike, Vancouver

    Trying to parallel the president is weak at best. Jindals' vision is the size of Louisiana and Obamas vision is global. Bobby Jindal will need to grow his heart by three sizes to even get on the same stage as President Obama. And stay out of the Politcal crap before he can even think to help the country.

    March 3, 2009 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  18. j lewis

    Michael Steele is indeed "the de facto leader of the Republican Party.", until Rush decides otherwise. He obviously does not have the spine to stand by his ground, when challenged . He was in essence told by " the de facto leader of the Republican Party", Rush to remember his place, like a good boy.

    March 3, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  19. cecil

    Too Late Mr. Rogers!

    March 3, 2009 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  20. Critical Thinker

    Palin makes Bobby Jindal sound like Henry Clay, the great orator.

    March 3, 2009 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  21. fog

    I think dude crazy

    March 3, 2009 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  22. Carl from Texas

    That puts things in perspective. I just want what's best for America... to heck with the party affiliation.

    March 3, 2009 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  23. G.R.I.T.S - Girl Raised in the South

    That hardly explains the lies, or makes it all better.

    March 3, 2009 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  24. Sam

    haha Kenneth the page.

    March 3, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  25. barfly

    Add another one to Rush's boys. It never ends. This is why I, as a Repubican, vote Democrate now.....

    March 3, 2009 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
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