WASHINGTON -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) issued one of the more pointed post-election public criticisms of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign Tuesday, saying that the Republican nominee did too little to set out an inspiring vision for governance.
"Mitt Romney is an honorable man. He's a good honest man. He deserves our respect, and our gratitude," Jindal told The Huffington Post in a phone interview. "The reality of it, the campaign was too much about biography. It wasn't enough about a vision of where they wanted to take our country, and how they would do it."
"The reality is people are not being inspired by a biography," Jindal said. "We have got to offer that vision."
Jindal made the comments as he talked about the need for Republicans to detail their policy ideas. He said that the Romney campaign's focus on marketing its candidate as a businessman who could fix a stalled economy, rather than running on a bold presentation of conservative principles, was, "one of the reasons this got obscured."
Jindal, a 41-year-old, second-term governor, was initially considered a possible vice presidential pick for Romney, despite the fact that Jindal endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary. But Jindal and Romney lacked personal chemistry, according to multiple sources, and Jindal had a limited presence for Romney on the campaign trail.
Jindal is now considered one of the GOP's top prospects to run for president in 2016. And already he is putting down markers as to the kind of conservative voice he wants to be in the coming years. In a 30-minute interview Tuesday, he was confrontational toward President Obama on health care, saying he will not implement the state exchange mandated by Obama's Affordable Care Act, essentially daring the federal government to come in and try it themselves.
And in criticizing the risk-averse nature of the Romney campaign, Jindal made clear that he thinks a Republican can be successful by running toward topics that have traditionally been political trouble spots, rather than away from them.
"When we talk about balancing the budget and cutting the size of government, we've got to be honest with the American people. I'm all for cutting non-defense discretionary spending, but we have to be honest with the American people and say, 'We also have to go and look at entitlement programs, that it's not sustainable, the spending and borrowing that we're doing today,'" Jindal said. "We need to be talking very specifically about social security, Medicare, Medicaid."
Jindal, who ran both Louisiana's hospital system and its university system before the age of 30, also sketched out how Republicans should talk about education.
"For too long we have given health care and education to the other party. And the reality is, if we believe in an aspirational society, we absolutely have to stand up for the right of every child to get a great education, because in this economy, that's what it's going to take to be able to pursue the American dream," he said. "That means very specific policies about changing the way we hire, fire, compensate teachers, that's based on a spirit of achievement and accountability, not just how long they've been in the classroom. It means meaningful student choice, so the dollars follow the child, whether it's the tradtional public schools, charter schools, online schools, local schools, independent schools, whatever it takes to make sure that child's getting a great education."
"We need to be fierce adovcates for that so a child's future is not dependent on where they're born, where they grew up, their zip code, their geography, their parent's wealth," he said.