Governor Bobby Jindal joins US presidential race

Mr Bobby Jindal, 44, seen here with his wife Supriya, is the first American of Indian descent to make a major presidential bid.
Mr Bobby Jindal, 44, seen here with his wife Supriya, is the first American of Indian descent to make a major presidential bid.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON - Pegging himself as a rebellious outsider, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced on Wednesday that he is running for president, becoming the 13th Republican to launch a 2016 campaign for the White House.

Mr Jindal is the first American of Indian descent to make a major presidential bid and he joins a packed field of Republican hopefuls, several of whom have higher profiles than him.

"My name is Bobby Jindal," he told a crowd of supporters near New Orleans. "I am governor of the great state of Louisiana and running for president of the greatest country in the world."

Mr Jindal, 44, has been an intense critic of President Barack Obama's strategy for thwarting and defeating extremists, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

He has cut state spending by 26 per cent and slashed more than 30,000 state jobs.

He opposes same-sex marriage and a national education standard known as Common Core, and advocates for the repeal of Mr Obama's signature healthcare reform law.

"I am running for president without permission from headquarters in Washington DC," he boomed, to explosive applause.

But Mr Jindal was also lampooned on social media for his statement, "I am tanned, rested and ready for this fight", at the launch event. The comment was interpreted by some as an attempt to distance himself from his Indian roots and hours later, #BobbyJindalSoWhite was trending on Twitter amid jokes and insults.

Mr Jindal's popularity is minimal so far. In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released in mid-June, support for him registered at less than 1 per cent.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush currently leads the Republican primary race with 22 per cent support, according to the poll. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who has yet to announce his campaign, was second with 17 per cent. Senator Marco Rubio was third.

Mr Jindal is the son of immigrants and in 2008, after a short stint in Congress, he became the nation's first Indian-American governor.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline 'Governor Bobby Jindal joins US presidential race'. Print Edition | Subscribe