BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. Some things to know about him:
Jindal seems to have been working toward a presidential race for nearly his entire adult life. He became the nation's first elected Indian-American governor, and Louisiana's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction, when he took office in 2008. He's reworked Louisiana's government ethics code, created a statewide K-12 school voucher program and privatized much of the state Medicaid program and a charity hospital system for the uninsured. Republicans and Democrats in Louisiana blame Jindal's steadfast refusal to support anything that national anti-tax activist Grover Norquist considers a tax increase as creating continued budget problems for the state.
After doing health care policy work during a congressional internship and holding a brief private sector job in health care consulting, Jindal persuaded Gov. Mike Foster to name him Louisiana's health secretary at age 24. After that, he led a national commission looking at the future of the Medicare program, returned home to serve as president of one of Louisiana's public university systems, then worked as an assistant secretary in the Health and Human Services Department in the George W. Bush administration.
Jindal's first elected post was to the House. He served three years in Congress, representing suburban New Orleans from 2005 through 2008. He's only lost one election, a failed bid for governor in 2003. His introduction to much of the country flopped, however, with a dud of a speech in 2009, a response to President Barack Obama's first presidential address to Congress.
The son of Indian immigrants, Jindal was named Piyush when he was born in Baton Rouge on June 10, 1971. He said he picked up the nickname "Bobby" because of his affinity for the youngest son on the TV show "The Brady Bunch." While Jindal was raised a Hindu, he converted to Catholicism as a teenager. He and his wife, Supriya, a chemical engineer who is now a stay-at-home mother, have three children: a daughter, Selia, and sons Shaan and Slade. Both sons' births came with drama: Shaan had a heart condition that required open-heart surgery just after he was born, while Jindal helped to deliver Slade at home when his wife went into labor before an ambulance could arrive. Jindal has bachelor's degrees in biology and public policy from Brown University and a graduate degree from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar.
CALLING CARD MOMENT
Jindal set an example for strong and effective government response through a string of Louisiana disasters, including the massive Gulf Coast oil spill in 2010, hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, and a Mississippi River flood. He held regular news conferences rattling off lists of disaster response efforts and fought the Obama administration on appropriate tactics to respond to the oil spill, trying to strike a contrast with his predecessor, who often appeared overwhelmed during the back-to-back devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
EARLY STATE ACTION
Jindal has pivoted from his reputation as a policy wonk to make his religious beliefs the centerpiece of his campaign, courting evangelical voters and aggressively promoting religious liberty. He's spoken in private meetings with pastors in Iowa and New Hampshire, at a gathering of faith leaders and conservative activists in Washington and in Oklahoma at an event promoting a Bible museum. In a recent speech in South Carolina, Jindal talked about his pushback against criticism from some in the business community over religious liberty laws that have become a flashpoint in the national debate over same-sex marriage. He described his message to business leaders as: "Don't even waste your breath trying to bully the governor of Louisiana."
His book "American Will: The Forgotten Choices That Changed Our Republic" will be released in October. Jindal says the book is a review of events ranging from the Louisiana Purchase to the Cold War and offers lessons for the present, which he considers "a critical moment" for the country. A previous Jindal book, "Leadership and Crisis," came out in 2010.
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