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Negative ads sign of desperation: Jindal

By Aziz Haniffa in Baton Rouge, LA
November 15, 2003 01:50 IST
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On the eve of the run-off on November 15 for the governorship of Louisiana, Piyush 'Bobby' Jindal (32) accused his Democrat rival of getting desperate to hold on to power.

Of late, his Democratic rival Kathleen Blanco has let loose a barrage of negative ads asking uncomfortable questions about his tenure as the state's health administrator, accusing him of pushing the indigent out of the Medicaid program.

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Jindal said, "These are desperate scare tactics of lies, distortion, and personal attacks aimed at holding on to power."

The Republican candidate said his campaign is not about himself but about Louisiana, where he was born and raised.

In the midst of a 40-hour, non-stop, no-sleep campaign, Jindal told, "Too many of my high school friends left Louisiana to pursue their education, jobs and my campaign is all about being a governor who will make them stay in Louisiana."

He felt blessed that his daughter was born in the same Louisiana hospital where he was born. "I want my children to stay in Louisiana and pursue their dreams right here," Jindal said, repeating a theme he has referred to in every interview, every speech and every appearance.

He defended himself against accusations that his tenure in the state's health department saw thousands of the indigent in the state losing their Medicaid benefits and without any health insurance.

"Eight years ago, when I took over health and hospitals, so many political experts said we won't be able to rescue the Medicaid program, we won't be able to rescue our state's health care program. (But) We did it. I had taken on the political machine and saved the healthcare program and we saved taxpayers money and we improved healthcare for hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana."

Much of the negative campaign against him was because he had rooted "out fraud and abuse, corruption," Jindal said.

The almost minute-by-minute criticism was a case of the "same old political rhetoric, some of the same old political forces trying to do the same thing."

Earlier, Jindal told over 200 cheering supporters chanting "Bobby, Bobby, Bobby," at a rally in Baton Rouge, "It's time for us to send a message, to tell the desperate political machines, tell the desperate politicians that the same old style tactics won't work. We don't want lies, we don't want distortions, we don't want attacks," he said.
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Aziz Haniffa in Baton Rouge, LA