Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal argued for a stronger military defense and railed against both the president and secretary of state in an address that positioned the Republican as a war hawk ahead of 2016’s presidential election.
“The Russian reset. Iraq. Afghanistan. Israel. Egypt. Iran. Libya. Europe. China. In each of these areas, it’s not just that the president took too long to come up with an answer. It’s that the answer was wrong,” Jindal said in his speech at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute on Monday. “If only he’d had the help of a wise, steady hand, a policy expert in dealing with foreign affairs, he’d have come up with better answers. But instead he just had Hillary Clinton.”
Monday’s address marks Jindal’s biggest foray into foreign policy to date and the strongest indicator yet that he’ll run for president in 2016. In an address with a coordinating policy paper, he called for a stronger military, an emphasis on American exceptionalism, and blamed the president and Clinton for world conflicts, saying that “weakness is provocative.”
The Republican governor has been positioning himself and his state at the center of domestic conversations on health care and education for months, but as he looks to bolster his foreign policy chops, Jindal has increasingly weighed in on international issues, including the border crisis, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and Ebola. On Tuesday, he will also head to an important early-voting state, South Carolina, to give another speech on foreign policy at the Citadel, a military college.
In terms of specific policy proposals, Jindal called on the country to spend at least 4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on the military and restore the defense cuts the president signed off on in 2011.
“The consequences of this foolish, nearly trillion-dollar cut over the coming decade [is] unacceptable. Under these cuts, America will not have a global Navy any more,” he argued. “We will be almost 100 ships smaller than the Chinese navy. The Army and Air Force will shrink dramatically.”
Despite the campaign-like addresses, the governor pushed back his timetable for deciding his candidacy.
“My timetable will likely be sometime after the holidays. But it is something I’m thinking and praying about,” Jindal said when asked about a possible run. This summer, the governor told “Morning Joe” he would decide in November whether or not he’d run.
But party insiders told msnbc this summer that the writing is on the wall: “The signs are pretty obvious — you see people traveling to certain states, putting together a finance team, putting staff together, then you know they’re at least considering it,” GOP operative Henry Barbour told msnbc in August.