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MSNBC "Morning Joe" Interview - Transcript


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MS. BRZEZINSKI: And with here now to join us on "Morning Joe," Republican Governor of Louisiana and perhaps -- could it be? Could he be the next vice president of the United States? Governor Bobby Jindal.

Governor, thanks for joining us this morning. How are you?

GOV. JINDAL: Good morning. I'm doing great this morning. Thank you for having me.

MS. BRZEZINSKI: It's wonderful to have you. And you know where we're going to go, so we're just going to get it over with. We'd like the question, are you being vetted -- we'd like the answer, actually -- are you being vetted, and are you possibly the next vice president of the United States?

GOV. JINDAL: We've told everybody privately as well as publicly, I've got the job that I want. I love being governor.

This is an historic time for the people of Louisiana. I've told them this is a once-in-a-lifetime to change and improve our state after these storms and --

(Cross talk.)


MR. : (Inaudible) -- the question, Mika.


GOV. JINDAL: No, no --

MS. BRZEZINSKI: That's kind of -- Joe, help me out here. Come on. Come on.

GOV. JINDAL: I'm going to do everything I can to help --

MR. SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Bobby. Hey, Bobby, my man, are you being vetted? Bobby?

(Cross talk.)

GOV. JINDAL: I'm not going to be the vice president. I'm not going to be the nominee, but I'm going to do everything I can to help the senator get elected. I'm going to do that being governor of Louisiana, but I'm not going to be his nominee. He's got several great choices to pick from.

MR. GEIST (?): But Bobby, to help him get elected, does that includes producing any tax returns?

MR. SCARBOROUGH: But Bobby, apparently -- hold on a second. Hold on. (Laughter.) Hold on a second, because I think there's -- the microphone out in L.A. is not getting through to the East Coast.

Bobby, are you being vetted?

GOV. JINDAL: I'm not going to talk at all about their process, but I'll tell you again, I'm not going to be the vice president. (Laughter.) I've made it very clear I want to be governor. I've got the job that I want.

MS. BRZEZINSKI: Ohhh. Okay, boys, let him alone.

MR. SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Mika? Mika, Bobby's being vetted. (Laughter.)

All right. Bobby, so let me ask you, are people in Louisiana hurting because of this economy that Republicans have been running for the better part of seven years?

GOV. JINDAL: You know, we've actually got record low unemployment rates. We've got certainly a growing economy when it comes to employment. But absolutely, Louisianans are being affected by high energy prices.

We're not as affected by the national housing crisis, but certainly we would benefit if the Congress, the Democratic Congress would allow more offshore energy production, would have a rational energy policy, including nuclear energy, alternatives, renewable, conservation. It'd be good for our economy directly; it'd be good for our manufacturing sector. It would also be good for consumers that are paying the high price at the pump.

So absolutely, we're being impacted by the lack of a national energy policy. I agree with the president that Congress should allow more offshore production, but they should also allow nuclear, conservation, and alternative fuels as well.

MR. SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Bobby, what do you say, though to somebody that comes up to you when you're out campaigning in your state or working in your state and somebody says, Governor, I used to be a Republican but now gas prices are so high I can't -- I just can't even afford them. My home is going to be foreclosed on because the bank got me into a loan that I couldn't afford. My life is worse now than it's been economically.

Why should I vote for a Republican? You guys are the ones who've been in charge for seven years and look at the mess that we're in. What do you say to them?

GOV. JINDAL: I'd say two things. One, I'd say Washington has got it all wrong when it comes to energy and high gas prices. One extreme says no more domestic production; the other extreme says let's only drill our way to independence.

The reality is we've got to do it all. We need nuclear power, we need conservation and renewables as well as more domestic production. It makes no sense for us to say we're not going to produce more oil and gas at home while we yell at other countries that aren't always our friends.

But secondly, I tell voters don't just vote for the Party; vote for conservatives. And I absolutely agree that the voters had cause to fire the Republican majority in Congress. The Republican majority was spending like Democrats, wasn't balancing the budget, had become addicted to earmarks, was defending corruption that we never would have tolerated in the Democratic Party. And finally, we stopped being the party of new ideas.

So I tell voters, you know, don't always vote Republican, but find the real conservatives that have great ideas. Here in Louisiana we've cut six taxes, our largest income tax in our state's history. We've got one of the nation's strongest ethics codes.

We're actually growing jobs. We have a Fortune 1000 company moving its headquarters here, a Fortune 500 company contemplating a $3 billion investment in Louisiana.

So I tell voters find real conservatives. Don't worry about party labels; find people that'll do what they promise you when they're campaigning.

MR. GEIST: Governor Jindal, it's Willie Geist here in New York. The McCain campaign has called Barack Obama's trip overseas a photo op, a campaign rally, just to use a couple of the terms. I wonder what you think as you watch these pictures coming in from the weekend and from today of him sitting with Karzai there and visiting Baghdad today.

What are your impressions of his trip?

GOV. JINDAL: Well, first, I think certainly it's long overdue.

I'm glad that he's finally going there. You know, he didn't go during the primaries, but now that he's there, I wished he had gone and listened to the commanders instead of sticking to his policies before -- he announced his policy decisions before he went to listen to the commanders in the field.

Certainly when he talks about this 16-month timeline, this firm timeline, the reality is the surge is working. I hope when he goes over there he will say look, Senator McCain was right. Senator McCain, even when the Bush administration wasn't for this, when Senator Obama opposed it, said it would never work, Senator Reed said it wouldn't work -- Senator McCain stood tall and said the surge can work, it will work. Senator McCain said he was willing to lose an election rather than lose a war.

So I hope Senator Obama will come back and say he's learned from his trip, he thinks the surge is working. I certainly agree we want our troops to come back as quickly and as safely as possible. But the fundamental difference between the two senators is Senator McCain has said it has to be based on the facts on the ground. Senator Obama continues to advocate an unconditional withdrawal.

MS. BRZEZINSKI: Governor, I don't think there's an argument that since we're in there, the job needs to be done. I think the argument has been whether or not we should have been in there in the first place and what kinds of misconceptions brought us there.

So I feel like they're trying to confuse the issue here in terms of the McCain campaign and what exactly the differences are between the candidates.

GOV. JINDAL: Well, no, I disagree. I think the American voters are looking forward now and saying we want our troops to come home safely and victoriously. I think there is a fundamental difference between Senator Obama saying it's 16 months no matter what happens on the ground, and Senator McCain saying, look, it could be shorter, it could be longer.

Let's listen to General Petraeus. Let's listen to Admiral Mullen, let's listen to Prime Minister Maliki, who've all said basically the same thing, which is yes, American troops should be able to leave, they should be able to leave safely, probably more quickly than we originally anticipated. But it should be based on facts on the ground, not an artificial political timeline. I think that's the fundamental difference.

MS. BRZEZINSKI: Well, and also, but the prime minister has been quoted as saying the 16-month -- I mean, now there's questions as to exactly what that's being translated to, but it's pretty clear that he seems to be at least slightly attracted to the 16-month withdrawal timeline that Barack Obama is putting out there, as opposed to a horizon.

MR. SHUSTER: Well, Governor Jindal, it's David Shuster. And I think you just said something, and I just want to follow on it. You said that John McCain said it could be less than 16 months? When has he said that, and would you agree with pulling troops out in less than 16 months?

GOV. JINDAL: Well, I think if you listen carefully to what, again, General Petraeus and the senator and the admiral and other who've commented on this have all said is look, we want our troops to come home as quickly, as safely as possible. But it needs to be driven by facts on the ground.

And let me say this, and I'll put those words in my mouth, not somebody else's mouth. It could be 12 months, it could be 16 months, it could be longer. But the point is that the senator's always consistently said it needs to be driven by the facts on the ground.

And let's be clear: the reason we're able to have this conversation today is because the surge is working, a surge that Senator Obama opposed. And let's also be clear, Senator Obama has been advocating 16 months even before the facts on the ground changed.

The bottom line, the most important thing, is this: whether it's 16, 12 months, 24 months or whatever the timeline, it has to be based on the facts on the ground. It cannot be simply an unconditional, etched-in-stone withdrawal.

And one of the things I truly admire Senator McCain for, he has said again and he said this last year, he was willing to lose an election but he was not willing to lose a war. I think that speaks to his character and the fact this isn't being driven by politics.

MS. BRZEZINSKI: Joe, don't you think the governor's got the job?

MR. SCARBOROUGH: You know, Bobby, you were talking --

MS. BRZEZINSKI: I think he's got the job. What do you think?

MR. SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. He's got the job and he told us this morning that he's being vetted, so I'm very excited for him.

MS. BRZEZINSKI: It's perfect!

MR. SCARBOROUGH: Now, let me ask him one more question about Iraq.

GOV. JINDAL: I did not -- I did not tell you that.


MR. SCARBOROUGH: (Laughs.) All right, Bobby. So you've already -- we got the vetted thing out of the way. (Laughter.) Let's ask you one other thing about Iraq.

You talk about facts on the ground. McCain talks about facts on the ground. Obama talks about facts on the ground.

But we also have facts on the ground in Washington, D.C. -- the Pentagon, the generals saying there that we are stretched to a breaking point, our Army is. I know you know this, even though you're working down in Louisiana now for the people of Louisiana.

Shouldn't we pay as much attention to what our generals are saying in the Pentagon about our broken U.S. Army as we are listening to what generals are saying on the ground in Iraq?

GOV. JINDAL: Absolutely, and one of the things you hear our commanders, both in D.C. as well as abroad in the field, tell us is that as the surge has worked, as we're able to reduce our troops presence in Iraq -- and it does look, from early indications, that we'll be able to be even more aggressive in reducing the number of combat than originally anticipated.

It absolutely looks like we'll be needing to send more troops into Afghanistan, in some sense, the same kind of surge strategy that was advocated by Senator McCain in Iraq. To apply that same pressure, that same tactic in Afghanistan, we absolutely need to be listening to our commanders that are saying as we achieve success in Iraq, that may free up the resources to provide the relief we need in Afghanistan.

MS. BRZEZINSKI: Okay, Governor.

MR. SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, and we just don't have the troops to have that surge in Afghanistan unless we remove them from Iraq.

All right. Hey, Governor, thank you so much, and --

MS. BRZEZINSKI: And Joe? Joe --

MR. SCARBOROUGH: Governor, I agree with Mika, this is all very exciting that you're being vetted and --

MS. BRZEZINSKI: Yes, it's very exciting.

GOV. JINDAL: (Laughs.)

MR. SCARBOROUGH: Hey, listen. Just let us know when they give you the call --

MS. BRZEZINSKI: And when the party is.

MR. SCARBOROUGH: -- and when he asks you to be his vice president. Yeah, when the party is. We'll be there.

MS. BRZEZINSKI: I'm going to check off Jindal. Okay, great.

GOV. JINDAL: I'll make one more prediction. I'm not going to be the vice president. I'm going to be governor. That's the job I want. (Laughter.)

MS. BRZEZINSKI: Oh, good Lord. Governor, thank you so much.

MR. SCARBOROUGH: All right. Governor Bobby Jindal, thank you so much.


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