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Jindal begins non-stop, no-sleep, 40-hour campaign tour

By Aziz Haniffa in New Orleans, LA
Last updated on: November 14, 2003 03:57 IST
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At 6.30 on Thursday morning, Piyush 'Bobby' Jindal climbed into an RV (Recreational Vehicle often called a motor home) and began what his campaign called a non-stop, no-sleep, 40-straight-hour yatra called 'Hit the Ground Running'.

Accompanying the Republican candidate for the governorship of Louisiana were his wife Supriya, cradling their sleepingĀ 20-month-old daughter Selia Elizabeth over her shoulder, his parents, in-laws and campaign staff.

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The entourage made its first stop at the television studio of WDSU-TV in New Orleans. Interviews with more TV and radio stations will follow after which it will roll into West Monroe for an event at Bubba Luigi's featuring NASCAR's Darrel Waltrip and then a State Capitol Rally at 8 pm in Baton Rouge. On Friday, it will wind its way through Monroe, Lafayette, Alexandria, Houma, New Orleans and then back to Baton Rouge.

In announcing his schedule, Jindal said, "Our politicians often disappoint us but our people never do. They work hard. This campaign is their campaign. The movement for change has always been about them, not about me. That is why we are finishing the campaign with the spotlight on them, the working men and women of our state who want change."

His campaign staff said, "Bobby will make campaign stops to meet with Louisianians who work hard all hours of the day and night. He will meet with the people who keep our state moving. On Friday, he will travel to eight cities in just 15 hours and follow the path that he took prior to his success in the October 4 election."

His Democratic rival Kathleen Blanco was on Thursday campaigning in New Orleans trying to convince the heavily Democratic and predominantly African American voters to elect her on November 15.

The latest polls after the final debate between the candidates on Wednesday had her trailing Jindal by almost 8 points.

Election officials predicted only a 45 per cent statewide voter turnout, which would be 5 per cent less than the October 4 primary where Jindal won resoundingly with 33 per cent of the votes and Blanco coming in second with 17 per cent.

Leading analysts in the state have said a higher-voter turnout would definitely benefit Jindal but still hold the election is too close to call. The candidates' final push to motivate voters, especially those undecided, would decide who gets to reside in the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge.

Secretary of State Fox McKeithen said, "I think the election is still to be won," while Jean Armstrong, president of League of Women Voters in Louisiana and one of the most powerful women in the state, told "With so few votes separating them, there could be a recount."

Armstrong, who had organised most of the major debates between the two candidates, discounted the race factor saying, it is "how the economically challenged vote that will finally count and to them what is important is whether they can trust either of the candidates to go to bat for them."

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Aziz Haniffa in New Orleans, LA