No, this is not what Bobby Jindal will be saying later today as he formally announces his candidacy for the presidency, but if I were on his team, this is the draft I’d submit for his edits and approval.
Thank you, thank you, thank y’all so much.
It is an enormous honor and privilege to speak here on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, in a district I once proudly served in Congress during the most challenging time in our state’s modern history. I’ll always cherish the time I served as your Congressman and the incredible work that we were able to accomplish together, rebuilding our homes and our neighborhoods, reasserting our magnificent culture, and daring to “think different” about the major issues confronting us: small business development and retention, efficient and community-based health care clinics, the creation of a national model of charter school excellence, the implementation of a gold standard of ethics.
And, of course, I’ll never forget this town, Kenner. How could I?
A few blocks down the road here, in the middle of the night and with the ambulances still on the way, I had the biggest scare of my life. Supriya had suddenly gone into labor, and it was all happening very quickly. With only a few words of advice and pointers from the first-responder on the phone, I think his name was Dave, I unwittingly became the most nervous midwife in the entire world.
Still, if anyone ever questions whether I would be prepared for the infamous 3AM phone call, now, I can just point to our beautiful girl. I’m prepared for anything.
To Supriya, thank you for your patience, your compassion, and for all of the years you’ve worked helping me become a better man, a better husband, a better father, and a better public servant.
To my three children, Selia, Shaan, and Slade, you all grew up in the governor’s mansion, and I know you understand what a privilege that was. But most importantly, I believe you all will continue to shine, because you are the three brightest stars in my galaxy.
To my mother and father and to all of my friends and family in our ancestral home in northern India, “Maiṁ tumasē pyāra karatā hūm̐.”
To my friends from here in Louisiana, thank you for trusting me, thank you for believing in my vision in our state, thank you for rewarding me with clear mandates in both my first and second terms. Other than being the father of three remarkably talented children and the husband to the smartest and most beautiful woman I’ve ever met, I consider my years as governor the greatest honor of my life.
My years as governor are drawing toward an end, but I just turned 44 last week and am hardly ready to retire this business suit for a bathing suit or these boots for sandals.
My political advisers and some of my closest friends cautioned me about this, worried that I’d be calling too much attention to a negative, but since I know it will be said regardless, I figure it’d be best to just get this out of the way: Yes, my poll numbers in Louisiana are embarrassingly bad, worse than even Chris Christie’s numbers.
Generally, as politicians, when we’re told of bad numbers, our instinct is simply write off the entire enterprise of polling. And when the numbers are good, we’re more than willing to sing their songs from the mountaintop. I’m going to something rare in politics, and I’m going to try to exactly why my numbers sank so low.
In my two terms as governor, we tried to accomplish some really bold and innovative things, and not all of them were successful. We tried overhauling our tax code. That failed. I believed then and continue to believe that the best and most effective way to lure businesses into Louisiana is by ensuring that we can offer the same package of incentives and proposals that every other business-friendly state in the country is offering. And we could have done that with a minor increase in sales taxes. It’s a shame the tax failed, but I respect the passionate opinions on both sides.
We also refused to expand Medicaid under the President’s so-called “Affordable Health Care Act” or Obamacare. I’d spent much of my career studying health care policy, and I knew there was nothing affordable about the Affordable Health Care Act. A few months before President Obama was elected, I pitched a pilot project in the Lake Charles area that would provide federal subsidies for private providers willing and able to cover any and all patients, regardless of their age, their income, or a pre-existing condition. I continue to believe this is a solid, workable model; it expands Medicaid without expanding the government.
We’ve also had a heated discussion about the future of our schools, about the need for charters and voucher schools, about Common Core and teaching to the test. This rankled some people, understandably, but ultimately, we arrived at a fair compromise.
When I was first elected governor in 2007, I promised to change the way government is done in Baton Rouge. I think I’ve lived up to that promise. Our schools are stronger than ever. Our health care system is now oriented around preventative care, and small neighborhood quick clinics are now replacing our overworked, understaffed major emergency rooms. Business publications now rank Louisiana either at or near the very top of their lists on the best states to open a business. New Orleans has become a magnet for entrepreneurs.
And even though we have sometimes gotten criticized for scrambling together money at the very last minute, the truth is: Louisiana’s budget has remained balanced every single year that I’ve served as governor.
We’re experiencing growing pains in Louisiana, and that, I think, is a good thing.
Allow me to reintroduce myself, this time without the slow awkward walk to the podium, “Hi. Welcome to Louisiana. My name is Bobby Jindal, and I am here to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.”
I am running for President, because I believe in the future of this great nation. 44 years ago, my parents dared to dream big, and with almost nothing to their name except their education, they picked up and flew across the ocean, settling in Baton Rouge. My mother was pregnant when she bought that fateful one-way ticket, which means, technically, that I was conceived in India and born in Louisiana. Don’t worry: I’ve already secured the original birth certificate, which I’ve hidden and sealed in a mystery location. I understand Donald Trump is willing to spend good money for things like this.
My parents inspired within me a deep and abiding love for our new home, this glorious country, a place that celebrates its diversity, that values tolerance, that can provide each one of us with the space to be ourselves, to discover our own meaning and identity in life. My name may be Bobby now, and as teenager, I decided to dedicate myself to Jesus Christ. I was able to find myself- not only because this is America, but also because, I’m blessed to have two of the best parents you’d ever ask for.
Over the course of the next few months, I hope we can begin a long national discussion on serious issues. I’ll admit: I’m sometimes guilty of getting distracted by the irrelevant. Sometimes, I talk too fast and yet manage to say too little. I will continue to learn.
But here I am: The son of Indian immigrants leading one of the greatest states in our country, a destination for the world, a place that embodies and exemplifies perseverance, tenacity, sustainability, and jour de vive.
I’m running for President so that I can guarantee our country remains the same land of opportunity that welcomed his parents and gave him and his little brother a future that they could only dream.
I’m running for President because this state, my state, has proven to me that big things are still possible.
Thank you and God Bless America.
Note: He’d never deliver this speech. His speech is likely to contain a didactic and alarmist diatribe on religious freedom, a series of cherry-picked Bible verses, a largely xenophobic rant against Muslims, and a lecture about America being weak.