WASHINGTON (AP) — A pair of fierce partisans running from the edges of their parties, liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders and conservative Gov. Bobby Jindal are struggling to win over base voters longing for other choices.
It's not for a lack of effort.
A self-described "democratic socialist" from Vermont, Sanders ought to be a natural fit for liberals. Instead, they're largely pining for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to get into a White House race she insists she will not run.
The sharp-tongued Jindal has been ramping up his out-of-Louisiana profile, jetting to Washington twice in as many weeks looking to ignite his still-nascent campaign. Yet he is often eclipsed by other conservative Republicans who are expected to join him in the crowded fray for the party's nomination.
It's exasperating exercise for both.
"I tell you: I knew Elizabeth Warren before she was Elizabeth Warren," Sanders said Monday during an appearance at a Washington think tank.
An hour earlier across town, Jindal was asked four times about another Republican mulling a presidential run, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
"Whether someone is electable or not, it's up to the voters," Jindal said when asked about Bush's record as an education advocate. Later in the day, he was heading to New York in an attempt to persuade Bush-minded donors to give him a look.
Neither prospective candidate has committed to a White House bid, and they're not likely to decide for a few months whether to move ahead. While each is regarded as an intellectual leader in his respective parties, they have yet to line up the donors needed to build a credible political organization that can compete for president in 2016.
For Sanders, that means — once getting past Warren, who has said repeatedly she isn't running — pushing past former secretary of state and likely Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. "Usually, no matter what I say, it becomes Hillary Clinton," Sanders said Monday.
For Jindal, it will require emerging from a pack of roughly two dozen Republicans thinking about a campaign. On Monday, he warned he would ignore the plans of the Republican National Committee to limit the number of primary debates.
"There's this ideal of theirs, this idealistic belief, that if we could just have fewer debates, if we could have a gentler, kinder nominating process, that would be good for the party and good for the nominee," Jindal said. "Well, you know what? Democracy is messy."
In the meantime, each is lobbing rhetorical red meat to the party base.
Jindal, on a recent trip to London, claimed in a speech about radical Islam that there were "no-go zone" neighborhoods in Europe where civilian police cede control to religious police. Similar claims by others made on Fox News and CNN were retracted, but Jindal's team is standing by those claims.
On a visit to Pennsylvania this weekend, Sanders lambasted the billionaire Koch brothers, who have spent millions trying to help conservatives win elections. He also promised to continue pushing for a constitutional amendment to limit political spending.
Their efforts haven't yet helped either one catch fire.
This weekend, New York's liberal Working Families Party joined other outside groups in trying to pressure Warren to run for president.
"Two is always better than one," said Neil Sroka, a spokesman for Democracy for America, one of the groups spending millions to try and lure Warren into the race. "If we can have two voices in this president primary process pushing for the fight against income inequality, that's a good thing for Democrats."
Overlooked: Sanders is such a voice. He and Warren are ideologically similar, with a history of criticism of the Wall Street-based financial industry. "The business model of Wall Street is fraud and deception," Sanders said Monday during a fiery speech at the centrist Brookings Institution.
But as he railed against the outsized influence of corporations in American politics, Sanders promised he would not aim his rhetoric at Clinton. "If I run and if Secretary Clinton runs, what I would hope would happen is that we would have a real serious debate," he said. "This is a woman I respect, clearly a very intelligent person."
Jindal, meanwhile, made no such promises. In Washington to push his education priorities on Monday, he pointedly criticized potential rivals — such as Bush — who support the Common Core State Standards.
"If Republican voters want to vote for a candidate who supports Common Core, I suspect they'll have that option," Jindal said. "They may have multiple options."
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