Last month, when Gov. Bobby Jindal told WDSU-TV he would not be endorsing fellow Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter in the junior senator's re-election bid, he cited as his reason a policy of not injecting himself in national races. But that statement flies in the face of Jindal's endorsement of Woody Jenkins in the 2008 special election to fill Louisiana's 6th Congressional District seat — as well as his endorsement of state Treasurer John Kennedy against U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu later that same year.
Outside Louisiana, moreover, Jindal has found one Republican U.S. Senate candidate he can wholeheartedly back: Florida's Marco Rubio, a favorite of the Tea Party. Like Jindal, Rubio is 39 and a possible comer for higher office. On Oct. 13, Jindal appeared at a "Reclaim America" campaign rally for Rubio in Tampa, Fla. The next day, Jindal traveled to Portsmouth, N.H., for a meet-and-greet to raise funds for GOP gubernatorial candidate John Stephen — a move that raised eyebrows as well as money, since New Hampshire is the site of the first presidential primary in early 2012.
On the surface, Jindal may want to avoid any association with Vitter because of the senator's "serious sin" involving hookers in Washington D.C. and New Orleans. Insiders say there may be another reason: Vitter upstaged Jindal's New Orleans announcement that he was running for governor three years ago. On July 16, 2007, Jindal was set to announce his candidacy for governor at Louis Armstrong International Airport at 6 p.m. At noon that same day, Vitter announced his first public appearance since admitting his "serious sin" — a news conference he scheduled for 5:05 p.m. that afternoon in Metairie.
Vitter's timing was hardly accidental. Two weeks earlier, Jindal refused to give an unfettered statement of support for Vitter in the wake of Hookergate, and "Bitter Vitter" no doubt timed his first public appearance after the scandal broke to overshadow Jindal's announcement for governor. It's hard to believe Jindal has forgotten that, and their game of political tit-for-tat seems to continue. — Kevin Allman