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Bubbas for Bobby!

By New York bureau
November 13, 2003 13:38 IST
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Just how important is the runoff for Louisiana governorship? Quite a bit, if one goes by the presence of worthy media outlets such as The Guardian. Apart from all the local media, the national papers are also keeping an eye on the Saturday runoff -– largely due to the presence of Piyush 'Bobby' Jindal.

A second generation, brown, Christian convert running on a Republican platform is bound to generate interest, but more than that, Jindal is a Rhodes scholar and a former member of the Bush administration. Does the Rhodes bit explain the Guardian's presence? We don't know but The Guardian, a UK paper, has Gary Younge down in Louisiana to cover this race and who can't help wondering at the phenomenon that Jindal has become.

Jindal for Governor: The Full Coverage

According to opinion polls, he is leading his Democratic rival Kathleen Blanco by a wafer-thin margin.

The duo last face off was November 12 in a televised debate. It might just help people like Monica Carter make up their mind, as opposed to the indifference that is currently her attitude.

Other than that, the race has thrown up some interesting sidelights. In a press conference at New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Dr Evan Howell, a retired neurologist, and Dr Harold Stokes, an orthopedic surgeon, alleged Jindal, during his tenure as head of the state's healthcare system had cut Medicaid to about 65,000 residents, almost half of them children. Jindal described the attacks as 'desperate'.

Jindal's team responded later, saying some people had been moved off the rolls as the economy strengthened and they were no longer needed.

And in more attack ads, a new flier in the mail from the state Democratic Party accuses Jindal's stance on abortion, saying he is "willing to let Louisiana women die". Interestingly, both Blanco and Jindal oppose abortion, the only difference being that Jindal supports a blanket ban, as per the Roman Catholic Church, while Blanco wants exceptions in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.

Jindal calls it 'scare tactics'. In fact, Jindal has been repeating that Blanco's campaign has been running on negatives for some times. So, earlier this week, Blanco turned around and touted her own credentials as lieutenant governor.

Jindal and Blanco also seem to have found common ground in their responses to the issue of the death penalty -– they are both for it. And both also faced criticism from the AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired People), which looks out for interests of citizens 50 and older, for lacking in their responses to a survey sent out earlier.

Blanco, however, reportedly does support gay rights and has pledged support to some of them and promised an executive order to ban discrimination against gays in the state's hiring process. Wonder how the 'Bubbas for Bobby' -- that's a popular bumper sticker going around in this Southern state -- react to that one?

Also see: Governorship race baffles pollsters

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New York bureau