Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, joined me today to discuss the Iran “deal”:
HH: Right now, I begin the hour with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, candidate for president. You can follow him @BobbyJindal on Twitter. Governor Jindal, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, great to have you.
BJ: Hugh, thank you for having me back. It’s always a privilege to be on the air with you.
HH: Your reaction to the Iran deal?
BJ: Well, you know, unfortunately, it just confirmed all of our worst fears. This president has continued to undermine our foreign policy. So he had said earlier that this deal was going to make sure that Iran did not have enrichment capacity. He was going to make sure we had anytime, anywhere inspections. Hugh, that’s simply not true. You’ve got over 5,000 centrifuges there. We don’t have anytime, anywhere real effective inspections. The reality is, is this could start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. You’ve got Sunni countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey that may now want to go buy this technology from the Pakistanis. This president’s leading from behind doesn’t work. Now it is time for Secretary Clinton, the architect of this failed foreign policy, to step forward and speak for Democrats and others to say this is a bad deal for America, a bad deal for Israel, and a bad deal for our European allies.
HH: Now Governor Jindal, last hour, I had on Lindsey Graham, who is seeking the presidency. Next hour, Carly Fiorina, tomorrow, four additional presidential candidates, do you expect any Republican presidential candidate to do other than denounce this deal?
BJ: Hugh, I would hope not, but I would hope it’s not just Republicans. I hope the Democrats would also say we’re going to put country first, not party first. You know, I was one of the first to sign onto the Cotton letter and say that I would not consider that any deal done by this president that didn’t have those required elements, I would not require that binding. And it’s more than just no centrifuges, no enriched uranium. It’s also anytime, anywhere inspections. They should recognize the right of Israel. They should free our American prisoners. They should also cut off ties to Hamas, Hezbollah, other terrorist organizations. Then and only then should be, and cut off any pathway to a plutonium device. And then and only then should we gradually begin to consider lifting sanctions not lifting sanctions before we verify they have done those things. Hugh, this is a country they’re chanting death to America, death to Israel. They have cheated on current obligations. And yet this feels like we’re just saying trust us one more time. That make no sense to me. And so I would hope that Democrats and Republicans come together as Americans. The Senate approved a very bad bill, I believe, that reverses. It should take a two-thirds vote to approve this. They flipped it, so now the President can veto the resolution if they pass one of disapproval. It’ll take a two-thirds vote to disapprove it. That’s why I don’t think this is binding on the next president. I think we should all be telling the Iranian regime and our allies that we don’t consider this in our best interests. This will not be binding on the next commander-in-chief.
HH: Bobby Jindal, I’ve been asking all the Senator who have come on today, and I’ve got a couple more coming on, whether it is a good idea at this critical moment for the Senate to take a recess from August 10th through September 7th. I believe the optics of that are quite bad, that it’s hard to keep America focused on a matter of national security and Israel’s survival if they go out of town for a month. And Graham and Gardner, Senators Graham and Gardner agree with me. Senator Cotton made an argument why it might be necessary to go and come back. We’ll find out what Sullivan, Thune and the rest say. What do you think about that?
BJ: Look, I think the quicker they can come, I know they’ve got 60 days, and that was one of the things they put in their bill since they missed the original deadline. The quicker they come back and denounce this quickly and immediately, not only does it send a message to folks here at home, but think about what the Israelis are thinking. Hugh, this is what I worry about. We’ve got allies that don’t trust us. We already know the Saudis and others have tried to repair their relationships with Russia. We already know that we’ve got Asian allies looking at China. We’ve created a vacuum on the world stage. And what happens is others will fill that vacuum. They’re not going to sit idly by. If folks see that after all this rhetoric, it wasn’t just me, it wasn’t just this conservative Republican governor from Louisiana, it was the president himself who said they will not have any enriched uranium, they will not have any centrifuges, they won’t have any enrichment capacity, and now we’re getting a deal that doesn’t do those things, what I worry about is over the next 60 days, if they take the full 60 days, what happens? What happens with all of those allies and others watching and worrying about this? They don’t trust America anymore. They don’t trust us to stand up for our own interests, much less theirs. Look, this is what resulted in ISIS growing. This is, we created a vacuum that allowed them to grow in Iraq and Syria. It’s the same failed foreign policy approach. Hugh, this president doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism. He’s made it very clear. He’s the first president in my lifetime. Even Jimmy Carter believed in American exceptionalism. He was incompetent, but he believed in it.
HH: So this is interesting. This is very different. I hadn’t thought about this. Your advice is the Senate and the House ought to move quickly to reject the deal to send a signal, put it on the President’s desk, and then they’d have a 12 day debate. I do think they’ve got 60 votes to reject the deal. I don’t, and I think they can pass a rejection out of the House pretty quickly. So your advice, Governor Jindal, is read it, debate it, reject it and wait?
BJ: Absolutely. Why in the world do we want to create any uncertainty or look, I know the administration didn’t want the 60 days. They didn’t think it would bear scrutiny. They were worried. They wanted to rush this through. I don’t think it takes folks a whole lot of time to figure out this is a bad deal. And so why in the world do we want to leave it on the table? The quicker we can kill this, the reason the administration got so mad about the Cotton letter was they didn’t like the fact that Americans, that our leaders were sending a message to the international community that there are leaders that want to stand strong, that understand peace through strength. So I think the earlier we reject this deal, the better, the better not only for the United States, but for Israel and our allies. Look, this is a regime that is still, even John Kerry said, even John Kerry said before he signed this bad deal, that this was a regime that state sanctions one of the largest, if not the largest, state sanctioned sponsor of terrorism around the world. And here we are doing a deal with them, and we’re not even asking them to cut off their financing and support for terrorist groups. It is un, this is such a bad deal, Hugh, I think he’s trying to redeem himself, live up to his Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe he should just give the peace prize back. This deal’s not worth that prize. What it will do, he’s made a lot of mistakes on the domestic economy, taking us to socialism, turning the American dream into the European nightmare. But this foreign policy mistake has got long-lasting effects. This is not something that can easily, this is not just like reversing an EPA regulation or tax cuts. This is alienating allies and encouraging enemies. Look, you know when Assad jumped on board quickly and Netanyahu quickly denounced it, that’s all you need to know. That’s all you need to know about this deal.
HH: Now those are markers, but Governor Jindal, you’re very good at this, and so I’d ask you again. What’s the elevator pitch against the deal? If you get two minutes to persuade a voter in the street and they ask you about this at a town hall in New Hampshire, why should we be against the Iran deal, what’s the Bobby Jindal response in compact form?
BJ: Three things. Well, the one liner is this could start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. We could have multiple countries there with nuclear arms. Talk about making Armageddon even more likely, we’ll talk about increasing the danger in an already dangerous world. Secondly, this leaves Iran with over 5,000 centrifuges, doesn’t gets us anytime, anywhere inspections, doesn’t require them to release American prisoners or recognize Israel’s right to exist. This is a bad deal that encourages our enemies and undermines our allies. Finally, look, our enemies like it, our friends don’t like it. What more do you need to know? Israel doesn’t like it, Syria likes it. That’s all you need to know about why this is such a bad deal.
HH: All right, now I want to, while I have you, I’ve asked a couple of your colleagues running for president about Donald Trump’s comments about the border. Today, he was out blasting at Lindsey Graham, who he says always wants to bomb things. What do you make about his policies, his tone, his rhetoric when it comes to the border security issue?
BJ: Well look, I don’t agree with his comments. I don’t look at people as members of economic or ethnic groups. And I think this whole hand-wringing in D.C. is actually quite comical, Hugh. The reality is you’ve got all these folks in D.C. trying to censor him. The RNC is trying to quiet him down. You’ve got all these folks wringing their hands. Political correctness has run amok in our nation’s capital. There was a bill by a Congresswoman to get rid of the term husband and wife. That’s how silly things have gotten. This is a free country. There’s a 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Let’s have an open debate. I obviously think I’m better qualified to be president, otherwise I wouldn’t be running. And I’m glad that we’ve got a bunch of folks running on the Republican side. Let the voters sort it out. And guess what? Every time the media criticizes him or brings him up, Donald Trump loves it. He wins every time they come out and try to ridicule him or mock him or try to censor him. He’s the one that comes up a winner, and he loves the attention. So bottom line is let’s have a debate. Let’s stop worrying about being politically correct. I think I’m better qualified. I think I’m the one that should be the nominee and the next president. But I think this attempt to silence him is silly, and it’s only going to backfire.
HH: Are you getting traction in Iowa and New Hampshire, Governor Jindal, and if so, on what issue? Is it the national security issue? Is it domestic energy production? Is it your lawsuit against Common Core? What is it?
BJ: Well, Hugh, we have seen great crowds. So I have just come back from my third trip to Iowa since we announced a couple of weeks ago we were running for president. We’ve been in New Hampshire as well. We’re seeing hundreds of people coming to our town halls. The crowds are standing room only. And a few things, I think, resonate with folks. One, they like the fact that I’m saying we need to endorse and embrace our own principles. I disagree with Jeb Bush. He says we’ve got to be willing to lose the primary in order to win the general. I think that’s backwards. I think that’s the left saying hide your beliefs, try to get the media and the left to like you. That’s the establishment trying to get us to do that. They’re looking for a fighter who says no, we’re going to repeal Obamacare, secure the border, we’re going to shrink the size of the federal government. We’re going to actually, Hugh, we’re going to actually invest in our military. We’re going to hunt down and kill these radical Islamic terrorists in ISIS. They want somebody who’s willing to speak the honest truth to them, and secondly, somebody who understands Greece will be our future. If we’re not careful, Bernie Sanders at least is honest enough to admit that he’s a socialist. Hillary’s no better. Barack Obama’s no better. They just don’t call themselves socialists, but their policies are turning the American dream into the European nightmare. They are taking us down the path to socialism. Greece will be our future. I’m willing to say and do the things you’re not supposed to be able to do and say. Even the Republican establishment sometimes doesn’t want to win. And so I think we’ve got voters that are tired of leaders in both parties. They want somebody that’s going to fight for them and go to D.C. and get things done like a balanced budget amendment, term limits. Let’s shrink the size of the federal government.
HH: Governor Bobby Jindal, thanks for coming on, on Iran day, important voice in the debate. I appreciate you joining me.
End of interview.