After looking at the horrid poll numbers after the last election, Republicans like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are trying their best to put a kinder, gentler face on the Republican brand and distance themselves from Romney's recent race baiting remarks, but no one should be fooled. Jindal might be talking a good game here, but he's no moderate.
Bobby Jindal isn’t done excoriating Mitt Romney for attributing Obama’s win to the president’s offer of “free stuff” for Democratic voters. On Thursday, the Louisiana governor told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the former nominee was “completely unhelpful” in his remarks.
“This is not where the Republican party needs to go,” he said. “Look, If you want voters to like you, the first thing you’ve got to do is to like them first. And it’s certainly not helpful to tell voters that you think their votes were bought.”
In a reference to Romney’s “47 percent” video, Jindal added that Republicans needs to appeal to “100 percent of the electorate, not 53 percent.”
Romney complained in calls with donors this week that he had difficulty competing with Obama’s offer of “big gifts” to minorities, youth, and women such as expanded health care access and “amnesty for children of illegals.” Among leading Republicans, Jindal cast the first stone against Romney’s remarks on Wednesday and shows little sign of letting up now.
Jindal told Blitzer that the GOP couldn’t improve its standing by “insulting folks” who voted against them.
I'm not sure what they'd have to run on if you take away the sexism and overt racism and fearmongering. Your party is going to have to do a lot more than give the voters lip service before they take any of this seriously Bobby.
Full transcript below the fold.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney speaking out about his election loss for the first time and blaming it in part on what he calls, quote, "gifts" -- gifts that the president gave to supporters. Let's talk about that and more with the Republican Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. He's the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Congratulations by the way. I guess I got to say congratulations on getting that job, Governor. But thanks very much for joining us.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Thank you, Wolf. Great to be back on the air with you.
BLITZER: All right. Let me play a little clip of what he said to some of his big donors that's causing quite an uproar. Here's Mitt Romney. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE : What the president, the president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, that's caused a lot of uproar -- gifts that the president gave. I guess the implication is, was he bribing some of that coalition minorities, Hispanics? Was he bribing young women with all sorts of, quote, "gifts"? What do you make of that?
JINDAL: Wolf, this is completely unhelpful. This is not where the Republican Party needs to go.
Look, we want -- if you want voters to like you, the first thing you've got to do is like them first. And it's certainly not helpful to tell voters that you think their votes were bought. That's really certainly not a way to show them that you respect them, you like them.
We need to stop talking down to voters. As a Republican Party, we need to fight for 100 percent of the electorate. Not 53 percent, not 52 percent but 100 percent. We've got to stop trying to divide people into different groups by race, by gender, by class.
Instead we've got to show them that our conservative principles will help them pursue the American dream, enter the middle class, do better. This is completely not helpful. This is not where the Republican Party needs to go.
We need to stop being the dumb party. We need to offer smart, conservative, intelligent ideas and policies. That's how we win elections. We don't win elections by insulting voters.
Again, if you want voters to like you, you got to like them first. Telling them their votes were bought is not helpful. It's not true. This is not where the Republican Party needs to go next.
BLITZER: It sort of reminded me, Governor, I don't know about you, but it reminded me about that really controversial comment he was overheard at that fundraiser in Boca Raton last May down in Florida, speaking about that 47 percent who were effectively, I'm paraphrasing, what moochers, including recipients of Social Security, veterans, anyone who gets government assistance if you will, that caused him an enormous amount of problems during the campaign as well. Do you see a similarity here and there?
JINDAL: Absolutely. Look, as a party, as a country, we're an aspirational party, we're an aspirational country, we're a country that believes our best days are ahead of us.
We're a country that believes everybody wants their children to do better than their parents have done. What that means is we want our kids to get a great education, and high paying jobs. I believe people on food stamps and government assistance don't want to be there.
They're there because they don't have the ability to get better paying jobs. It's our responsibility to adopt policies that grow the economy, that give them the education and opportunities to have a better quality of life.
I don't think we get advance this discussion or debate by insulting folks. Look, the Republicans we need to stick to our principles, but we need to treat other people with respect. Even those we don't agree with.
We need to show them we respect them and their beliefs. We can disagree without being disagreeable. Republicans said a lot of dumb things. We need to condemn the remarks. You saw it in Indiana and Missouri.
As a party we need to stop talking down to voters. We have great ideas on school choice on putting great teachers in the classrooms, energy independence, a lower flatter tax hole without the loopholes and breaks for the wealthy and the special treatment.
Let's go out and put those policies out. Let's actually have an honest intellectual debate. Let's stop insulting people. We have too many people on unemployment. They're not there because they want to be there.
They're there because there are not good paying jobs in this economy. Let's grow the economy and symptom insulting the voters.
BLITZER: Did you convey these same thoughts to the governor when he was the Republican presidential nominee?
JINDAL: Look, I don't know how much benefit there is to continue to look back. Mitt Romney is a good man, honorable man reality is I don't think his campaign laid out a good vision how his policies would benefit every single American.
I think they ran a campaign based largely on his biography. It's a very impressive biography and very impressive resume. But at the end of the day presidential elections are about visions and policies.
I think now as a party we either need to congratulate the president on his win. It was an impressive win. As a party we not only need to look forward and fight for every single vote in America.
And the way we do that is to treat people with respect. We don't need to be like the Democratic Party. We don't need to divide people into special interest groups, or racial groups first or gender groups or geographic or class groups.
We treat every American as an individual. We don't think demographics is destiny. We say the circumstances of your birth don't determine your outcome as an adult. We want every American to have the opportunity to pursue the American dream.
We're going to treat them with respect and offer policies to help them and their children do better. That's what we have to be to be a majority party to win elections. The reason we have 30 Republican governors is they are working to improve schools in their states.
They are working to balance their budgets, grow private sector economies. We've got ideas that work. We don't need two Democratic or liberal parties in this country. We need two parties. The Republican Party doesn't need to moderate our principles. We do need to modernize our party, however.
BLITZER: One final question, Governor, before I let you go. Comprehensive immigration reform, all of a sudden Republicans and Democrats are talking about it. Lindsey Graham, he's trying to get together with Chuck Schumer to see if there's an opportunity.
Are you in favor right now of major legislation that would deal with comprehensive immigration reform, securing the border, but also having a pathway to citizenship for some of those illegal immigrants who are in the country?
JINDAL: Wolf, several things. Absolutely, I am for comprehensive approach. Let's stop making this a political issue. Let's solve this issue. It does have to include securing the borders. Look, the president four years ago said he was going to present a proposal.
Let him present that proposal so we aren't negotiating with ourselves. But we in the Republican Party need to be clear with the American people that we welcome folks that want to come to this country and follow the rules and work hard and make this a better stronger country. Our legal immigration system is broken. We need to dramatically increase the number of people we allow in this country legally. It's good for them. It's good for our country. Right now our immigration policies aren't good for our country. They're not good for families.
We have folks that come here. We educate them and kick them out of the country. As a Republican Party we need to be very clear. We welcome those folks that want to come here and make this a better stronger country.
It takes a lot of entrepreneurial spirit and risk to move your family here, to take those chances, to want to get good paying jobs and work very hard. Those are the kinds of people that have made this a great country.
Whether your family's been here 5 minutes or hundreds of years, that's not what makes you an American. That's what's kept us apart from the rest of the world. It's something unique and exceptional for our country.
So yes, I think there's an opportunity for a comprehensive approach. I don't think we should be negotiating with ourselves. Let the president put his ideas on the table. It's got to include securing the borders first.
It's got to include substantial increase for legal immigrants -- for legal immigration. Let's stop kicking people out that want to make this a better country.
BLITZER: Governor Jindal, thanks very much for coming in. Good luck with the new assignment as leader of the National Republican Governors Association. We appreciate it very much.
JINDAL: Thank you, Wolf.