Governor Bobby Jindal joined me on today’s program:
HH: I am so pleased to begin this hour with Governor Bobby Jindal of the great state of Louisiana, candidate for the presidency, whom I’ll be asking questions of at the Reagan Library debate one month from yesterday. Governor Jindal, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
BJ: Hugh, thank you for having me, and I’m excited to participate in that debate. I hope you’re getting ready for it as well, a great honor to be back at the Reagan Library as well.
HH: Oh, I’m spending a lot of time trying to think about how to frame questions. I am curious what you thought about the framing of the questions in Round one. What’s your advice to me, to Dana Bash, who’s also on the panel, Jake Tapper. I don’t mind asking candidates what their advice is. It doesn’t mean we’ll take it.
BJ: I think you should just ask me every question, and just let the other candidates wait their turn. Yeah, that’s true, because I’m always amused when, one of the first questions I got asked after that debate was, I had reporters ask well, do you think the moderators were mean or tough. I said look, every one of us is auditioning to be the commander-in-chief. This is the most important job. I think debates are great. I think the opportunity to talk directly to voters are great, so I think just let it rip. I think that voters want to see if these candidates can answer the tough questions. They want to see if they can get past the soundbytes and the one-liners and the prepared talking points. You know, this is the most important election of our lifetimes. This president has done so much damage in seven years, voters want to see which candidates, which one can actually reduce the size of government, which can fix our foreign policy, who’s going to stand with Israel, who’s going to stop Iran. So my advice is just let it rip, have a good time, and let the voters see what these candidates are really made of. I’ll just give you one example. There was a report that came out last week. Hugh, I’m the only candidate that has actually reduced the size of government. There’s not two. We’re the only ones that have done it, and I think that’s the kind of proven track record voters are looking for.
HH: Now Governor Jindal, let me ask you a tough one, then. Today, the networks are full of conversation about whether or not the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment ought to be repealed, the Constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship. Would you support such an amendment?
BJ: Well, I think the reason you see this debate going on is because we’re not enforcing our laws today. The reality is you’ve got folks that are coming here, breaking our laws, they’re having children under various terms for, you know, the folks that, the children that are here, and it complicates, at least in this complicated debate. I think the solution is pretty simple. One, secure the borders. Secondly, no illegal, no unconstitutional amnesty orders, executive orders. Third, Hugh, here’s what I think a smart immigration policy looks like. I think people that come here should come legally, should learn English, adopt our values, roll up their sleeves and get to work when they come here. And I think if we do that, we can be the great melting pot again. What I really worry about is right now, the left is insistent we’ve got to have multiculturalism, they’re insisting we can’t insist people that want to come here want to be Americans. They want to insist on hyphenated Americans. Hugh, immigration without assimilation is invasion, and I think that’s why people are so worried. I think the most direct, the simplest answer to all of this, secure the border, stop people coming here illegally, and that eliminates the problem in the first place.
HH: But Governor, if I was actually at the debate stage, I would have interrupted you, and I would have said very simple question, though. Do you support an amendment to change the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, yes or no, Governor Jindal?
BJ: Hugh, my answer would be the simplest way to solve this problem is to secure the border. I think we can do that, we can do that in six months. That would be a lot easier than trying to amend the Constitution.
HH: And so is that a no, I don’t support it?
BJ: Yeah, the answer is secure the borders, we eliminate the problem. My worry is that, the political answer is oh, we’ll tell people we’ll amend the Constitution when the, at least in D.C., that’ll take much longer than simply getting this job done. What I worry about is that becomes an excuse to have open borders and amnesty. That becomes an excuse for inaction. Let’s solve the real problem. Secure the border.
HH: Well, but you see, the way I would answer that question, I think what you said, it’s not Hugh Hewitt’s opinion, I think translating Governor Bobby Jindal is, no, I don’t favor an amendment, an amendment takes forever, I’m not sure of the wisdom of it anyway, and in the meantime, the border is not secure. So no, I don’t favor an amendment. Let’s focus on that. But I think all of our candidates have trouble answering questions. And you are like one of the intellectuals among the Republican Party, and it’s very frustrating to voters when candidates just don’t say yes or no to yes or no answers.
BJ: Well, but I think this question is more complicated, because look, I don’t have strong views on the underlying concept. My bigger concern is, the reason I think this is a little more nuanced, is what I worry about is look, there are folks that may say they are for this because it’s a convenient excuse to avoid the real, I think the real issue, what really people are worried about is there are people who are coming illegally, they’re having children, and that’s leaving this complicated debate, or even there are people that are coming and overstaying their visas for the purpose to have children here so they can have citizenship status. And I know that’s happening in California where you are. And I think the real answer to that is if we really want to nip that problem in the bud, stop them from coming. It shouldn’t be as easy as it is. It shouldn’t be possible for people to come into our country illegally, and right now, it’s very easy for people to do that. So I think when people ask that question, the real root issue they’re trying to get at is why is it so easy for people to come here and have children when they shouldn’t be here in the first place.
HH: Well, I agree with that. That’s, your analysis is correct, but that does still leave hanging the question. The Supreme Court decided this in 1898 that people born in the United States are citizens, and that’s because of the 14th Amendment which passed in the Civil War. And I don’t think that will ever be changed, actually. I don’t think it’s possible to change that, but given the Constitutional amendment process. So isn’t it easiest just to say no, I don’t support, whether or not people want to bring it forward, I just won’t support it? Isn’t that easier to say and then move onto the analysis?
BJ: Well, I think there are other people that don’t support it, because ideologically, they oppose it. I guess my rationale is what I really want to do is solve the problem that people are worried about. And you know, in today’s political soundbytes, what I worry is, is that it’s easy to try to get, you know, in some debates, they try to get people to raise their hands. This is a presidential debate. It should be a discussion. And people should have the opportunity to offer analysis and good answers. And people can agree or disagree with them. I think we’ve got to get away from the silliness of the, and I hope this debate doesn’t do this, where people say all right, raise your hand if you think…
HH: Oh, you’ll not get that from me. I don’t do raise your hand questions. But I do know that we’re limited to an hour with six very competent people, and so you and I have just spent more time talking in eight minutes than you’ll probably get that night. It’s not really an ideal way to pick a president, but it’s the way we do it.
BJ: Well, that’s why I want you to ask all your questions to me. I’ll tell you more than anybody else.
BJ: That was my advice in the first place. You heard that at the top of the hour. I just, there’s no reason to give those guys attention. They’re not going to be president. Just ignore them. Let them seek another debate.
HH: Okay, let me, you know…
BJ: Hugh Hewitt, Bobby, ignore the other moderators, Hugh, it’ll just be Hugh Hewitt and Bobby Jindal brought to you from the Reagan Library.
HH: I want to go back to the lesson, political lesson. Carly Fiorina’s numbers went up because she had the best first debate in the eyes of the punditocracy. Does that change your approach to the next debate?
BJ: No, look, I think candidates should be themselves. And you know, I mentioned earlier, we’re the only ones that have actually reduced the size of governments. Nine governors or former governors are running, a bunch of Senators. They’ve never reduced anything in D.C. We actually cut our budget 26%. I think people are looking for that kind of leadership. Hugh, when I’m here in Iowa, we’re going to every county. My sense is folks are worried that America is slipping away from them. The reason I think so many of these outsiders are doing so well is folks are tired of the status quo in D.C. They’re frustrated they elected a Republican majority in the Senate, nothing changed. You know, I don’t think the Republican leadership realizes how mad the voters are at them. They’re not just mad at Obama and Hillary Clinton. They’re mad at the Republican leadership as well. They’re looking for somebody who will do and say the things you’re not supposed to do and say. In seven years, we’ve seen, and I can’t go through the entire litany, but $18 trillion dollars of debt, Obamacare, a president who won’t say radical Islamic terrorism, Planned Parenthood selling parts, dismembering and selling parts of unborn babies, and the list goes on and on and on. The idea of America is slipping away from us, and I think voters are looking for somebody who will fight for them, have a sense of urgency. My best advice, and I know the other candidates don’t want my advice, but just be yourselves. And I think that over a presidential campaign, candidates’ true intellect, character and all that comes out. Trying to pretend to be something you’re not just doesn’t work.
HH: No, I think you and Senator Graham might have an excellent debate at the Reagan Library about the value of the filibuster, because the reason the Republicans have not brought forward anything is the Democrats are, the Democrats are filibustering the Defense Appropriations bill, Governor. It’s unbelievable.
BJ: You know, here’s the thing. The Democrats, when they’re in power, they threaten every procedural move. When it came time to pass Obamacare, they said look, we will do whatever it takes. We’ll use reconciliation, and they threatened, they’d taken away the filibuster on judicial nominations. They threaten and use every tactic to get what they want. I’m just looking for Republicans to fight with the same tenacity for our freedoms. We’ve got the majority. Let’s do something with it. You know, what is really, really changed that we repealed one illegal, unconstitutional amnesty order. Have we repealed Obamacare? Have we offered a replacement plan? Have we really balanced the budget? Have we really cut spending, not just slowing the growth rate? Let’s do something with this majority. The Democrats, and I don’t, look, I’ve never voted for Harry Reid, not that I could, or President Obama or these guys, but give them credit where credit’s due. They use that power to advance their agenda. I want the Republicans on our side to do the same thing. Fight for our conservative ideas, act like they have the courage of their convictions.
HH: So last question, does that mean getting rid of the filibuster rule in the Senate?
BJ: Look, if I’m president and we have the majority in the House and the Senate, and that’s what’s stopping us from getting rid of Obamacare, if that’s what’s stopping us from restoring freedom to our country, absolutely. If that’s what it takes for us to balance the budget, shrink government, restore freedom to the American people, we need to be willing to do what it takes. This is a very critical time for our country. Incremental change is not enough. Just sending any Republican to the White House isn’t enough. We need somebody who’s going to lead a revolution to get our country back and get us back on the right track. Hugh, we’re on the path to socialism right now. At least Bernie Sanders is honest enough to admit what they’re trying to do.
HH: Governor Bobby Jindal, it is always a pleasure. I look forward to seeing you in Simi Valley and talking with you before then. Thank you, Governor.
BJ: Thanks, Hugh, always great to be with you.
End of interview.