To this point, however, Jindal has not been able to stake out positions that distinguish him among the many GOP aspirants, or proven himself to be the best salesman for widely-shared ideas.
As he officially seeks to break into the presidential league, there’s not much reason to expect that Jindal will end up justifying the kind of hope and hype that marked his early career.
“Why has he not caught fire? He is not a candidate yet,” says a Jindal adviser. “When he gets into this race he will be the least-known candidate. He has only room to grow.”GOVERNING: "How Bobby Jindal, a Rising Star, Plummeted Back to Earth"
“He’s been underestimated before,” the adviser adds, “and every time he’s won and he’s crushed the opposition.”
At the very least, he has nowhere to go but up.
Jindal was elected with nearly two-thirds of the vote in 2011, but since then he's managed to make a lot of people unhappy.
"Particularly in his second term, he's come under fire, constantly, from people who feel like he's shortchanged the state in terms of his attention, that he's more interested in running for president than running for governor," [George Cross, a political scientist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette] said. "He's really burned those bridges in a short amount of time."
To get elected president, you can’t have a string of political failures as a governor on your record. Jindal does, and worse that string didn’t come at the beginning of his governorship but rather toward the end. That’s why he’s running despite an approval rating in Louisiana of some 31 percent and polling indicating he actually loses, 44.5-42, against Hillary Clinton in his own state.
So today’s campaign rollout isn’t likely to generate much buzz or put Jindal in the top 10-12 candidates in a hopelessly packed Republican field. A more realistic hope is that Louisiana’s current governor might generate just enough support that, if he were able to ally himself with the eventual nominee, he’ll have created enough political stroke to rate a cabinet post dealing with issues he has expertise in. Jindal could be valuable working at Energy or HHS, or even Education – though one would hope if that was his post he’d be in charge of packing the department up, shifting its responsibilities to the states and shutting it down.