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TOP OF THE TICKET

Republicans' answer to Obama: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

The GOP reaches far outside Washington for its official response to the president's upcoming address to Congress.

February 15, 2009|Andrew Malcolm

A hilariously sad e-mail is circulating nowadays proposing that members of Congress be required to wear colorful, logo-splattered uniforms like NASCAR drivers so that voters can know their corporate sponsors.

So no surprise that the Republicans went out of town to find their official responder to President Obama's Feb. 24 address to a joint session of Congress: Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal.

You read about it here, uh, about three weeks after the election, when the speech season started in Iowa: The GOP will look to rebuild from the state capitals up.

The problem for the new GOP gubernatorial faces is they are not instantly available to the media glare in Washington. The advantage for the new GOP gubernatorial faces is they are not instantly available to the media glare in Washington.

And, therefore, they are fresh.

And B.J. is nothing but fresh:

The onetime House member abandoned Washington to return home to run his once locked-down and corrupt Democratic state with his conservative Republican principles, balancing the budget.

He's 37 (roughly half the age of the party's losing presidential candidate last fall), a good speaker and the son of a successful Indian immigrant, and he has an attractive family.

No, the opposition party responder to the president doesn't get the same attention as the Main Man. And, as political protocol requires this early, Jindal says he's not interested in 2012, although the GOP's Ames straw poll is only 29 months away. But he'll get plenty more exposure that night, as ABC notes Democratic governors did to recent Republican presidential speeches. And NBC has an interesting archive of past responders and their political fates.

And if the GOP strategists are smart, they'll draw every possible contrast with Obama in the glittering congressional chamber. Jindal won't be one of those stuffed suits talking with predictable pomposity in some shiny Capitol hallway. You can bet he'll be in Baton Rouge, which, according to the map, is outside the center of the universe within the Beltway.

Who knows, maybe Bobby (he took the name from a favorite character on "The Brady Bunch") will be surrounded by a diverse crowd of real people unlike, oh, say, that carpeted House chamber that has fewer Republicans in assigned seats after the last couple of elections.

It's a start for Republicans, anyway.

--

andrew.malcolm@latimes.com

Read Top of The Ticket, the Times' blog on national politics, at latimes.com/ticket.

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