WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced on Wednesday he was running for the U.S. presidency in 2016, giving himself a mountain to climb from the bottom of a full pack of Republican candidates.
"My name is Bobby Jindal and I am running for President of the United States of America," Jindal, who became the first person of Indian-American heritage to run for U.S. president, said on his website.
Jindal, 44, is scheduled to appear later on Wednesday in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner to formally announce his decision. His website featured videos of Jindal and his wife, Supriya, telling their three children that he was going to be a candidate and promising his daughter they would get a puppy if they moved to the White House.
Once seen as a rising Republican star, Jindal has struggled with a fiscal crisis and a slump in popularity in his home state and usually ranks near the bottom in polls of Republicans seeking the nomination for the November 2016 presidential election.
Jindal, a two-term governor who also represented Louisiana in the U.S. House of Representatives, joins 12 other Republicans in the race, including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Others, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, are expected to join soon.
Jindal is popular with social conservatives and evangelical Christians, but his home state appeal faded as he tried to close a $1.6 billion shortfall in the state's budget, caused in part by falling oil prices, without breaking a promise not to raise taxes.
The MarblePort/Hayride poll in Louisiana released last week was especially embarrassing for Jindal, showing more Louisianans back Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for president than Jindal by 44.5 percent to 42 percent.
Republicans in the state complain Jindal spent too much time trying to court national attention while his state floundered.
Jindal is in last place in a Reuters/Ipsos online poll of 15 Republicans, drawing less than 1 percent. It could be difficult for him to be among the top 10 Republican candidates in national polling who will join the party's first debate in Ohio in August.
Jindal, a Christian who converted from Hinduism as a teenager, jumped into a fight in May over religion and gay rights.
He signed an executive order to allow businesses to refuse service for same-sex weddings, even though Louisiana's House of Representatives had rejected a similar measure.
Jindal also annoyed business leaders by proposing the elimination of more than $500 million worth of corporate tax rebates this year as part of his effort to balance the budget.
In 2009, Jindal delivered the Republican response to the President Barack Obama's first State of the Union address, and many in the party hoped he could be a young counterweight to the new president. But his speech was mocked as amateurish and awkward.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson and Alistair Bell; Editing by Susan Heavey and Bill Trott)