GREENVILLE, S.C. — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he was right to call Republicans the “stupid party,” no matter what fellow GOP governor and possible 2016 presidential rival Chris Christie says about it.
A couple of weeks ago, at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Boston, Christie took a thinly-veiled shot at Jindal when he said, “I’m not going to be one of these people who goes and calls our party stupid. We need to stop navel gazing.”
Anyone who follows GOP politics closely saw that as a reference to a much-noted speech Jindal had given to the same group a few months earlier. In those remarks, Jindal, referring some of the damaging statements Republican candidates had made in the 2012 race, said, “We’ve got to stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.” The phrase “stupid party” is one that conservatives sometimes used to describe Republicans, but usually in private, and certainly not in as public a form as an RNC meeting.
On Monday, Jindal was here in Greenville to help South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley kick off her re-election campaign. I asked for his reaction to Christie’s statement. In his answer, Jindal managed both to reaffirm his own comments and take a few thinly veiled shots of his own.
“I stand by my remarks,” Jindal began. In Thinly Veiled Shot Number One, Jindal added, “Not everybody wants to say the honest truth, the hard things, to our party. We’ve got to be smarter, and the reality is, we’ve got to work harder to earn the support of every single voter.”
“I was speaking right after an election many of us thought we should have won,” Jindal explained, “an election against an incumbent who has not kept his promises, who said he was going to cut the deficit in half, said he was going to keep unemployment below a certain rate, said he was going to change the partisan tone of Washington DC. And he did none of those things. We ran an election where I thought we should have won and could have won.”
In Thinly Veiled Shot Number Two, Jindal added, “I think it’s important that our party is able to look at ourselves honestly in the mirror, see what works, and see what we need to change.”
Finally, in Thinly Veiled Shot Number Three, Jindal said: “One of the things I will emphasize is, I don’t think we need to become a second liberal party. I’m not saying we should abandon our principles. The country already has one liberal party in the Democratic party. We don’t need to become a second liberal party. So I stand by my remarks.”
Just to show there’s nothing personal, Jindal noted that as head of the Republican Governors Association, his main job this year is to help Christie win a second term, as well as help GOP candidate Ken Cucinelli win in Virginia. “That’s what we’re focused on politically, it’s the right thing to do,” Jindal said. “Chris has done a great job for the people in New Jersey, and I think Ken will be a great governor in Virginia…I look forward to helping Chris get re-elected in New Jersey.”