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Sep 28, 2014 10:18 AM

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal visits Manchester, NH, tours Polaris charter school

Political Director - NH1.com

MANCHESTER - Maybe it was being back in school that sparked his memory.

Asked by NH1 to share something personal about himself with New Hampshire residents, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who had just finished touring the Polaris charter school in Manchester, talked about his lengthy efforts to go out with the woman who would eventually become his wife.

The GOP governor from Louisiana, who's a vice-chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is in New Hampshire for a two day swing, to campaign and help raise money Walt Havenstein, the GOP gubernatorial nominee in the Granite State. Jindal also spoke Thursday night in Nashua at "Pastors and Pews," a gathering of social conservatives. For the possible Republican presidential contender, this is the second trip this month to New Hampshire, which holds the first primary in the race for the White House. Saturday Jindal travels to Iowa, which kicks off the caucus and primary calendar.

Jindal and Supriya Jolly met in high school in Baton Rouge, but she and her family soon moved away. Jindal said that he and his future bride didn't begin dating until a decade later, when he invited her to a Mardi Gras party after another friend had canceled.

"I screwed up the second date. After it took me ten years to get a first date, you'd think I would have been smarter than that. I screwed up the second date. I stood her up. It took me six months to get another date," explained Jindal, who reminisced that "after I got that date, within a few weeks we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together."

"The short answer is that I married my high school sweetheart. The honest truth is I married the first girl I ever liked, but she made me wait and it took me a while to convince her that this made sense, but I'm glad that she finally agreed," Jindal added.

Jindal shared his story after he and Havenstein toured the charter school and took questions from some of the young students.

One asked if a governor has the powers to change the name of his or her state. Jindal laughed and said "not if you want to stay governor."

Another asked their favorite foods. For Jindal it was chocolate chip cookies. For Havenstein, it was hot dogs.

Push for charter schools

The two-term GOP governor of Louisiana and Havenstein, who's challenging Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan in November, used the visit to the school to tout their support for charter schools.

"What Gov. Jindal's done in leading the increase in charter schools in New Orleans and other parts of his state have proven the effectiveness of those charter schools and it offers opportunities to families who might not have other choices," said Havenstein.

"We've embraced school choice in Louisiana. In New Orleans 90 percent of kids are in charter schools," Jindal added. "It's not that every child should go to a charter school or traditional public school or a private school. It's that parents should have a choice. If you give parents more choices they can choose the best fit for their kids."

The visit to the charter school on Manchester's west side is one of four stops Jindal's making with Havenstein.

"I'm proud to be here with Walt. He'd make a great governor of New Hampshire. Given his business background, given his military background, he'd provides exactly the kind of leadership New Hampshire needs," Jindal said.

Jindal considering White House run

While the swing through New Hampshire is about 2014, for Jindal 2016 isn't far from his mind.

"It's absolutely true that I'm thinking about 2016. We're thinking, we're praying about it, I'm talking to my wife about it," he admitted.

"In terms of timing, we'll likely make that decision sometime after the holidays, sometime after the beginning of the new year," Jindal added.

Jindal was near the bottom of the list in a recent CNN/ORC poll of New Hampshire Republicans' choice for their 2016 presidential nominee. The former congressman was at 3%, tied with former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate who's mulling another bid. Only Indiana Gov. Mike Pence placed lower among the 12 potential candidates listed in the questionnaire.

"I'm not looking at polls or fundraising," said Jindal, adding that "the first time I ever ran for office, I was polling within the margin of error, I could have been at zero."

Jindal said that "the thing that I hear across the country as I travel for other candidates is that people are frustrated. Democrats and Republicans. Not just Republicans. They're frustrated with DC. They're not looking for incremental change, they're looking for a big change in DC, almost a hostile takeover in terms of our political leadership there."

Jindal's visit comes less than a week after the New Hampshire Republican Party toughened its policy on abortion, adding support for fetal "personhood" rights into the party's official platform.

Both Havenstein and Scott Brown, the GOP's Senate nominee in the Granite State, distanced themselves from the move.

Asked about the move by the New Hampshire Republican Party, Jindal said that "I am pro-life. I'm proudly so. We don't need two liberal parties in America. We need to have a conservative party. I also think there's room in the party for people who may disagree with each other and that's OK. And I think tone matters in these kinds of debates."

But Jindal said that while social issues are important, this November's elections are mainly about the economy and jobs.

"I think that it's a good thing within the party that we can continue to be a party that stands for protecting innocent human life. I wouldn't want to see us stop doing that as a national party. I wouldn't want to see my state party stop doing that. At the same time this November I think the real issues dividing Walt and Maggie, the real issues in this governor's election, are going to be about growing the economy, creating jobs, getting New Hampshire back on the right track," Jindal added.


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