HH: I’m joined now by the governor of the great state of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal. Governor Jindal, welcome back, it’s always a pleasure to speak with you.
BJ: Hugh, thank you for having me back, and enjoy the event. I had the chance to go to the Reagan Library for the first time last February. It’s an amazing, amazing place.
HH: Great venue, wonderful opportunity to talk about an important book. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read The Great War Of Our Time, yet, but it’s sort of the companion volume to the Looming Tower. And I want to start there with something one of your competitors in the race for the presidency, Rand Paul, had to say this week on Morning Joe, Governor Jindal. Let me play it for you, and then we’ll pick up on what he had to say. He’s talking about who caused ISIS. Here’s Senator Paul.
JS: Lindsey Graham would say ISIS exists because of people like Rand Paul, who said let’s not go into Syria. What do you say to Lindsey?
RP: I would say it’s exactly the opposite. ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS. These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS’ job even easier. They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya, because these same hawks in my party loved, they loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They just wanted more of it, but Libya is a failed state, and it’s a disaster. Iraq really is a failed state or a vassal state now of Iran. So everything that they have talked about in foreign policy, they’ve been wrong about for 20 years, and yet they have somehow the gall to keep saying and pointing fingers otherwise.
HH: So Governor Jindal, is Rand Paul right? Are the hawks right? Where is Bobby Jindal on this issue?
BJ: Well, Hugh, I was appalled by his statement. Listen to what he said. ISIS exists because of the hawks in the Republican Party. You know, if President Obama had said that, every Republican Senator and Governor would be calling him out rightfully. It’s just not right to blame America first. We need to be honest and strong, especially when we see somebody in our own party blaming America. Either the Senator didn’t mean what he said, which I hope, or he’s actually to the left of President Obama, and even Hillary Clinton. We’ve, for the last six years, we’ve had President Obama blaming America and trying to fight ISIS with weakness. Hugh, ISIS is evil. Not only do they oppose America, this is evil. This is radical Islamic terrorism that must be confronted. It must be destroyed. It was not created by the foreign policy hawks in the Republican Party. This is just, this is reckless rhetoric. This is was somebody who’s auditioning to be president of the United States. Here’s the second point, though. For the last six-plus years, we’ve had this president try to lead from behind through weakness. We’re not going to repel evil through weakness. Evil is repelled by strength. You’re going to the Reagan Library tonight. President Reagan understood that a stronger America meant our friends could trust us, our enemies feared us. We haven’t had that kind of leadership, and as a result, Iran is on the march, Putin is on the march, China is on the march. You look around the world, we’re not standing with Israel. Iran is stronger now than before, in Iraq and Lebanon and Syria and Yemen. All over the world, we have seen the fruits of weakness. And so I thought the Senator’s remarks, to me, I think they’re outrageous. I think that it shows him to be unqualified to be our commander-in-chief.
HH: Is there a danger of a split crippling the Republican Party where those who agree with Senator Paul, and they are not insignificant in number, bolt the Republican Party as it begins a Defense buildup largely supported by the party?
BJ: No, look, I think as a party, we need to have a robust debate both within our party and with the country. And this goes to a bigger point. The Democratic Party is about to crown Hillary Clinton as their nominee. I think it’s a great thing that in the Republican Party, we think for ourselves. It’s who we are. You know, the Democratic Party loves to think they know how to live our lives better than we do, and now you’ve got Republican Party leaders kind of saying oh, we’ve got too many potential candidates, we need to clear the field, this is messy. Well, you know what? Democracy is messy, and that’s a good thing for the party. It’s a good thing for the country. These are important issues. Every politician will tell you, Hugh, the next election is the most important one. This one really is. We can’t survive, I don’t think, as the country you and I love, four more years of this President’s policies, and I think he will redefine, Hillary Clinton will be his third term, they will redefine what America means, the American dream means, and to be the European nightmare. And so these are important issues. Let’s have a robust debate. Let’s have an honest debate. I think that’s great for the party and great for the country.
HH: Now I’m going to talk next hour with Chris Christie, also likely to be your competitor in the race for the presidency. I’m going to ask him what he thinks about the Fox News rules, and I hold you up as the example of someone who is likely to need the long runway of the debates to get wind beneath your wings. What do you think of the Fox forum of ten only based upon a mixing of the polls, which will substitute political influence for name ID?
BJ: Well, look, you know, obviously I can’t control any of that. If I do decide to run, we’ll make that decision after June 11th when our legislature ends. One of the things we’ve done differently, we’ve offered detailed ideas on health care, energy, foreign policy, on energy. We’re the only potential candidate with a detailed plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. If I become a candidate, Hugh, we’ll make our case directly to the voters. We’ll do it any way we can, whether it’s retail politics on the ground, whether it’s through debates, coming on your show as often as you’ll let us and other shows like yours, and I think at the end of the day, the good news is the voters, not the party bosses, get to pick our nominee. And right now, there are a lot of candidates with name ID, but at the end of the day, my sense, I’ve spent some time in Iowa and New Hampshire and some of these other states, my sense is voters are waiting to make a commitment. They know this is important. They want to kick the tires. They want to ask some tough questions. It won’t just be who gives the best speech or who has the best TV ad. They really want to look hard, and I think that’s great. I think it’s great for our party and it’s great for our country.
HH: There is also a debate, and I’m going to talk with Mike Lee about this in Hour Three of today’s show, Senator from Utah, about the Patriot Act. And a number of people don’t want to renew it because of metadata. And I don’t mind the metadata, but what I mind more than the debate is the idea that we would be naked for a while because of Congressional deadlock over metadata. What’s your opinion on the Patriot Act v. nothing, or giving in over your objections of obtaining metadata and going for the USA Freedom Act? What do you think ought to happen, Bobby Jindal?
BJ: Sure, and you know, I’ve heard some of your comments on this. And look, I agree that we need to make sure we’ve got the tools to hunt down, to kill and protect, to kill these terrorists, protect us from these terrorists, and to prevent future attacks like we saw in Garland, Texas. So we do need to renew the Patriot Act. I’m also for making changes. Even the author of the Patriot Act has said that it’s been used in unintended ways. And so for example, the mass collection of data on innocent Americans, and you know, things that are being done without court warrants, I think we can have both. But we do need to have the tools to protect us, and I think we can have it without violating the privacy rights of the American people. Look, I strongly disagree with Senator Paul on foreign policy, on his comments yesterday on Morning Joe. I actually think he has certainly tried to lead a fight to try to protect Americans’ privacy rights, and I think that’s a good debate to be had. And I hope the Senate will give it the time they need to get to a resolution of this, because I’m like you. Let’s protect the homeland, but let’s do it in a way that doesn’t violate our innocent Americans’ privacy rights.
HH: And so would you have rather had the metadata in and the Patriot Act not lapse, or would you have rather had the Patriot Act lapse if they cannot get rid of the metadata?
BJ: Well, look, I don’t think we have to choose. I think that these, we elect these Senators, we elect them to go and do this job. They can come back from their break, and they can actually get this done. They’re supposed to have open debate. Let them debate this on the floor. I think we can renew the act, and make the reforms. Don’t make them, we shouldn’t have to choose between our rights and our security. I think we can have both, and make them do their jobs we elected them to do.
HH: Governor Bobby Jindal, always a pleasure, Governor, thanks for joining us.
End of interview.