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We know the GOP messed up, says Jindal. We'll make it up to you

February 24, 2009 |  7:57 pm

Bobby 7:35 p.m.: Very cool juxtaposition tonight, if you think about it. The first African American president gives a powerful speech, followed by the national political launch (it would appear) of the nation's first Indian American governor, Republican Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

The pundits are saying that Jindal had a tough job, that it's hard to follow President Obama, who gave a powerful, uplifting speech. And it's true, Jindal seems a little stilted. But he does a pretty good job complimenting the president's achievements while taking issue with his positions.

Jindal also issues a pretty strong mea culpa on behalf of a Republican Party that has alienated its base by straying from its principles in the last eight years.

"Republicans want to work with President Obama," says Jindal. "We appreciate his message of hope -- but sometimes it seems we look for hope in different places. Democratic leaders in Washington place their hope in the federal government. We place our hope in you -- the American people. In the end, it comes down to an honest and fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government."

No big surprise there. Perhaps more surprising was the flat-out acknowledgment that the Republican Party is in serious trouble -- and it's nobody's fault but the GOP's.

"Our party got away from its principles," says Jindal. "You elected Republicans to champion limited government, fiscal discipline and personal responsibility. Instead, Republicans went along with earmarks and big government spending in Washington. Republicans lost your trust -- and rightly so.... Our party is determined to regain your trust. We will do so by standing up for the principles that we share, the principles you elected us to fight for, the principles that built this into the greatest, most prosperous country on Earth."

If the Republican Party is trying to break with its infelicitous recent past -- loss of Congress, loss of Oval Office, loss of well, bearings -- then Jindal has made a respectable attempt at a fresh start. Expect to be hearing and seeing a lot more of him in the next few years....

--- Robin Abcarian

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, left, and his wife Supriya, right, arrive at the White House to attend a dinner hosted by President Obama, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009 in Washington.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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