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2016 campaign checklist: Bobby Jindal

Wednesday - 6/18/2014, 6:20am  ET

MELINDA DESLATTE
Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- A look at preparations by Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:

Nondenial denial: "It's something that we're certainly thinking about and we're praying about. My wife and I, we won't make any decisions until after the November elections." -- May, after addressing Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Governors make better presidents than senators, Jindal says.

Book: Yes. But hardcover "Leadership and Crisis" from 2010 is dated. No set plans for another book, inner circle says. But his moves toward managed-care privatization in health care and school vouchers in education could anchor another policy-themed tome.

Iowa: Yes, state GOP convention in June. Also summer 2013 visit, then flew with Iowa governor to governors' association meeting in Milwaukee. In Iowa seven times in 2012.

New Hampshire: Yes, keynote speech to local Republican organization in March; headlined state GOP fundraiser in May 2013, two visits in 2012.

South Carolina: Made third visit in a year in June, as keynote speaker at state GOP's biggest gathering, the Silver Elephant dinner.

Foreign travel: Rare. January 2014 trade and investment mission to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, first time overseas as governor. Traveled to Canada in August 2013 to speak to Oilmen's Business Forum Luncheon about his support of the Keystone XL Pipeline. A few trips while in Congress, 2004-2008.

Meet the money: Yes, met leading GOP donors in New York City. Among prospective candidates who visited Iowa GOP donor Bruce Rastetter's farm in August 2013 for annual fundraiser for the governor.

Networking: Big time and small time, far and wide. Gave May commencement address at Liberty University in Virginia, a familiar stop for prospective candidates, then gave South Carolina speech in June. Addressed National Rifle Association annual leadership forum in April, Conservative Political Action Conference in March, also in 2013. Made time for fundraiser for local sheriff in Michigan. Altogether, has spent much of his time during six years as governor on the road, talking to GOP and activist groups, supporting Republican candidates and promoting achievements. Has close ties with social conservatives. In March, created a political action committee to help conservative candidates running for Congress, giving him continued opportunities to network nationally.

Hog the TV: Not usually, only occasional Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election. But he did monopolize the microphone at a February gathering of governors, issuing harsh criticism of President Barack Obama on the White House lawn, saying the president "seems to be waving the white flag of surrender" on the economy.

Do something: Set an example for effective disaster response in several hurricanes and the Gulf oil spill (but unlike New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, trashed the Obama administration). Privatized a major chunk of Louisiana's Medicaid program and most of the university-run public hospital system. Created statewide voucher program that uses tax dollars to pay for private school tuition. Signed abortion restrictions, backed a science education law that some academics say amounts to back-door promotion of creationism and fought to keep it impossible for gay couples to adopt jointly.

Take a stand: Stands for "fundamental shifting (of) the size and focus of government" and has record on privatization to show he means it. Happy to carry social conservative banner while demonstrating curious mind on policy issues, at the risk of making himself look seriously wonky.

Baggage: Pesky state governance issues. Had to scrap ambitious plan to replace Louisiana's corporate and personal income taxes with higher sales taxes because of strong opposition. THAT speech: No doubt critics will be happy to dredge up video of disastrous GOP response to Obama's first presidential address to Congress in 2009, a prime showcase that went awry when Jindal delivered a dud. Decades-old writing about an exorcist-type act he claims to have watched as a college student. His privatization of most of the state's university-run hospital system has run into trouble with federal health officials, who rejected the financing plans for six of the hospitals, saying they don't meet federal guidelines governing how Medicaid dollars can be spent.

Deflection: The first Indian-American governor in the United States helped banish the memory of the GOP response with funny, well-delivered speech to media elite at 2013 Gridiron dinner, which included this self-deprecating reference to his own prospects for a presidential run: "What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion have of being elected president?" Low approval ratings in home state. Biggest accomplishments have some holes critics can pounce on: a troublesome audit pointing to lack of accountability and performance standards in voucher schools; the Jindal administration's award of a $200 million Medicaid contract came under investigation by state and federal grand juries; ethics overhaul that he called reform made it harder to prosecute ethics code violators.

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