Jindal on portrait: "I'm not white?"
WASHINGTON - Governor Bobby Jindal brushed off reporters' questions Monday about a portrait which went viral on social media last week showing Jindal with a different skin tone.
Last week Louisiana blogger Cen Lamar tweeted a picture of the portrait, claiming it was Jindal's "official" portrait. Jindal's chief of staff, Kyle Plotkin, responded with a picture of the actual official portrait and accused Lamar of "race-baiting."
On Monday Jindal, who is Indian-American, said he planned to return the portrait to the constituent who painted it. He also said he hadn't read Plotkin's comments about race-baiting on Twitter, but he did accuse the left of being "obsessed with race."
"I think this whole thing is silly," he said. "I think the dumbest thing we can do is to try to divide people by the color of their skin. The left is devoid of ideas and this is unfortunately what they're resorted to - name-calling.... This is nonsense. We're all Americans."
Jindal recently gave a foreign policy speech in London in which he repeated debunked claims that followers of Islam were creating "no-go zones" where they could practice Sharia law and police were afraid to patrol. Experts said there was no evidence at all to those claims, and other pundits who made them later retracted their statements. Muslims in Louisiana called the governor's comments "racist."
At Monday's breakfast Jindal also took time to set himself apart from Florida Governor Jeb Bush on education. Bush favors Common Core adoption, while Jindal switched positions to oppose it last summer. Jindal also released a national education policy "roadmap" which called for more privatization of the public education system.
The governor has drawn criticism for spending too much time out of the state purusing his own presidential ambitions, rather than working directly with lawmakers to fix a $1.6 billion projected budget deficit which could lead to massive layoffs at the state's universities.
When asked last week about the governor's involvement in budget negotiations, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Jindal has been "very involved" in developing a plan for the state. Nichols released the Jindal administration's mid-year cuts on Friday, which lawmakers will consider on Feb. 20.
IMAGE: CS Monitor / Robin May