Jindal Stays Put as Isaac Swirls Toward Coast
By Jim Malewitz, Staff Writer
This week was supposed to be Bobby Jindal’s time in the limelight — a chance at complete redemption for the Louisiana governor, whose star in the Republican Party is rising once again.
But a tropical storm named Isaac thought otherwise.
Jindal was among the host of governors slated to speak at the Republican National Convention, which is set to kick off in earnest Tuesday (August 28) after Isaac’s heavy winds and rain forced a one-day delay. The show will go on, but without Jindal.
Although the tropical storm has delivered just a glancing blow to the thousands of Republicans gathered in Tampa, it is barreling toward New Orleans, forcing Jindal to stay in Louisiana to respond.
Jindal announced his decision to skip the convention during a Monday press briefing on storm preparations. “There is no time for politics here in Louisiana along the coast,” he said. “This storm is like every other storm – it’s non-partisan.”
This will be the second time Jindal will stay at home during the GOP convention. In 2008, Hurricane Gustav kept him grounded.
Isaac will provide another test for governor’s leadership. It was his swift response to another disaster — the 2010 Gulf oil spill — that helped the young governor rebuild his image after his widely criticized response to President Obama’s 2009 State of the Union Address.
Isaac was delivering 70 mph winds Tuesday morning — slightly below hurricane level, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. But wind speeds are expected to grow to 85 mph as the storm skirts the coast over the day, pelting the region with heavy rains that could cause flooding.
Also on Monday, six Louisiana parishes had declared mandatory evacuations, according to Jindal’s office. New Orleans was under a voluntary evacuation.
“Today is the day if you want to move and get out of harm’s way,” Jindal told Louisianans in a statement Monday.
Jindal isn’t the only governor whose convention plans Isaac derailed. On Saturday, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced his decision to stay home, keeping an eye on the storm. And Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant delayed his trip, the Associated Press reported on Saturday. He has not since indicated when — or if— he will attend.
In Maine, Governor Paul LePage is staying put, too, but for a different reason. LePage is avoiding the convention as a show of support for the state’s Ron Paul-supporting delegates, who were rejected by the party.
“I felt the Maine delegates selected at the Maine Convention should be seated in Tampa,” LePage said Friday, according to the Bangor Daily News. "It is unfortunate that not all of these delegates will be seated.”
Despite the notable absences, governors will play prominent roles in the convention. Those scheduled to give speeches Tuesday include Republican governors from Ohio, Oklahoma, Nevada and Wisconsin, while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is to give the keynote.
On Wednesday, Susana Martinez, New Mexico’s Governor, is scheduled to speak.