Reporting Jim DeFede
MIAMI (CBS4) – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is widely believed to be on Mitt Romney’s short list for running mates, said President Barack Obama made a mistake earlier this year when he offered protection to the children of illegal immigrants.
“The president can’t pick and chose laws [to enforce],” Jindal said in an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Jim DeFede.
In June, the president instructed his administration to stop deporting children who were brought to this country illegally by their parents. The president issued the directive, which affects about 800,000 kids, after efforts to pass the so-called Dream Act were repeatedly stymied by Republicans in Congress.
“The way he did it was absolutely the wrong way to do this,” Jindal said. “We can not have a president who circumvents the law. And we’ve seen a pattern here. This is not the only time he’s done it. You’ve got a president who is saying, `Well, I don’t like DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) so we are not going to be defending that. Well I don’t like certain drug laws, we’re not going to be enforcing that. I don’t like certain immigration laws, so we’re not going to be enforcing that.’ So I do think you are seeing a pattern here that’s remarkable.”
Jindal called the president’s actions “a political stunt in an election year.”
“He had a Democratic Congress his first two years in office,” Jindal said. “If he really thought this was a priority as he had campaigned he could have done something by now.”
Asked if he would extend the presidents order and allow those kids to stay in the country while comprehensive immigration reform was debated in Congress, Jindal said he would not.
“We can’t do this piecemeal,” he said. “We can’t do this little piece by little piece.”
Jindal, who was in South Florida campaigning on behalf of Romney, is widely believed to be among two or three contenders for a place on the Republican ticket as vice president.
Jindal did his best to sidestep the question of whether he wants the job or whether he would help the Republicans win back the White House in November.
“This election is not about Joe Biden,” he said. “This election is about Mitt Romney and President Obama. It’s been a long time since we’ve had an election where the two candidates were this different in terms of their backgrounds, their experiences and their political philosophies.”
If Jindal was rehearsing for the job, he didn’t hold back in his attacks on the president.
“President Obama has had four years,” Jindal said. “He’s done his best and his best isn’t good enough for Florida and it’s not good enough for America.”
One problem for Jindal is that while he attacked Obama over the nation’s economy in general, and Florida’s economic woes in particular, he had to reconcile that with Florida Governor’s Rick Scott’s repeated assertions that Florida’s economy is improving.
“I’m a huge fan of Governor Rick Scott,” Jindal said. “I think he’s a great governor, a great friend. I think he’s done a great job as governor. He’s hit the ground running. Florida has gotten better under his leadership, absolutely. Unemployment has fallen under his leadership and that is a good thing. And the economy is getting better, but it could be a lot better with the right leadership in Washington DC.”
Jindal, whose parents are from India, was asked if he was troubled when members of his party attempt to portray the president as different, and foreign, and even un-American. For instance, Romney surrogate John Sununu earlier this month said he wished “this president would learn to be an American.”
Jindal said Sununu later clarified his remarks.
“I don’t question this president’s patriotism,” Jindal offered. “I don’t question his love of country. I don’t question where he comes from. What I question is where he is taking this country. I think this president is very sincere in his beliefs. I think he is pursuing policies he thinks are good and best for our country. I disagree strongly with those policies. I think those policies are burying my children and my future grandchildren under a mountain of debt.”
“I think it is unfortunate in Washington, on both sides, and its not just on the Republican side, on both sides, it is unfortunate we have gotten to the point where people feel like to disagree you have to demonize the other party, the other candidates,” he continued. “Reality is there are many people in the Democratic Party and the Republican Party who I think are passionate patriots.”
Asked if he has faced that sort of prejudice where opponents have tried to make him seem foreign and different because of his background as an Indian-American.
“Oh the Democratic Party has done all kinds of nonsense, they’ve called me all kinds of names.”