JERSEY CITY, NJ—Addressing an audience of school choice proponents tonight, Republican Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal assured them they had “the truth and the American people on [their] side” and acknowledged that it wasn’t “easy” for them negotiating the political spectrum.
“You got one political party that seems to be governed by the national teachers unions, you got another political party that sometimes seems too afraid to stand up for what it actually says it believes in,” Jindal said at the American Federation for Children Summit. “And through that all, you’ve worked together to create opportunities for children.”
Jindal keynoted the conference’s dinner and said the other side has “political action committees and protesters,” but he came to the summit in New Jersey to say that in his state of Louisiana “truth and the people are winning when it comes to education reform.”
If Jindal was critical of both “sides,” New Jersey governor Chris Christie, addressing the conference earlier Thursday, was more stridently partisan, telling families who want more educational choices for their children, especially in poor, urban communities, that they should vote Republican.
“I say this in urban communities all the time, ‘You continue to vote for these folks and put them in office and they continue to not address the needs of your families and your children.’ What need could be more primary than the need for an education in the 21st century?” Christie asked the group.
Both Jindal and Christie are at the top of most veepstakes list, but their difference in tone was striking. Christie mentioned the Louisiana governor (as well as another Mitt Romney running mate contender, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels) as leaders in education reform, but neither overtly referred to the election.
Earlier Thursday, the Louisiana governor told CNN when it comes to waiting for Romney to call, “I’ve got the job I want.”
“I’m definitely going to support Mitt Romney and whoever he picks as his running mate,” Jindal said. Trips out of state, like this one, as well as network television appearances can only help to boost his profile in the run up to Romney’s selection.
Louisiana has one of the largest school voucher programs in the country with 380,000 of the state’s students eligible, according to a Jindal aide. The conference promoted school vouchers and parental school choice, especially in poor communities with failing schools.
Jindal said he saw “two competing philosophies competing with each other for America’s attention and support today.”
“The first, just briefly, I kind of label the Occupy Wall Street philosophy,” Jindal said. “And it’s not necessarily just limited to the movement, but it’s defined by that kind of approach of class warfare that says that we’re entitled to each other’s property. That talks about dividing up a declining economic pie, that really just wants to manage the decline, the slow decline of America.”
Jindal told the audience to reject that choice and instead to embrace a “second competing vision for America that says you’re not entitled to your neighbor’s car or home.”
“You’re not entitled to an equal outcome in this country, what you are entitled to in this country is an equal opportunity,” Jindal said. “That’s really what educational reform is about, whether we truly believe in the American dream for our children.”