Jindal made the tactical error of throwing his support to Perry far too early and now he is stuck with his decision. Of course it could be just plain old loyalty, a commodity so rare in politics. Perhaps that is why he traveled this week to Houston and Corpus Christi and pledged to go on to Iowa with Perry.
But when Jindal made his commitment to Perry, the Texas governor was riding high in the polls. He had just formally announced his candidacy and was the early odds-on favorite in an unimpressive Republican field that grows more unimpressive with each passing day. The problem for Jindal at that stage was that Perry had yet to participate in one of the endless succession of Republican debates.
Perry has shown himself to be the lightest of lightweights among all the GOP candidates, trailing Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul and barely edging out Michele Bachmann (remember her giving a shout out “Happy Birthday” to Elvis in South Carolina on the Aug. 16 anniversary of his death?)
To illustrate just how bad it really is for Perry, consider this: On Tuesday, a Rasmussen poll indicated that a “generic Republican candidate” holds an eight-point advantage over President Obama. That same poll, however, shows that Obama would beat Perry head-to-head by a 46-34 percent margin.
Jindal, nevertheless, doggedly sticks to his guns. “Bottom line is, I think Rick has got a great record to run on, a great story to tell,” he said, adding, “We’re not going to have the best debater, the most polished speaker.”
Well, he should know about that. Remember his GOP response to Obama’s State of the Union speech in February of 2009? Republicans and Democrats alike panned that performance, calling it “amateurish” and “laughable.” His performance even prompted one viewer, admittedly a Democrat, to say he’d pay a lot of money “to be back watching a (Sarah) Palin speech.”
Bachmann once pointed out that Perry’s former chief of staff was a lobbyist for the drug maker Merck at the time that Perry signed an executive order in 2007 mandating that Texas schoolgirls receive a vaccine against HPV, the virus responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. The vaccine that Perry ordered used was one that only Merck produced.
Bachmann’s charge prompted an indignant response from Perry: “…it was a $5,000 contribution that I received from them. I raise about $30 million and if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.”
That ill-advised outburst seemed to imply that Perry, who has presided over a well-oiled pay-to-play system in Texas and, like our own Gov. Jindal, has shrouded his office in a cloak of secrecy, has a much higher price tag on his influence.
Like maybe $28,500. That is the actual amount of contributions from Merck’s political action committee to Perry between 2002 and 2010.
Records show that Merck made contributions to Jindal’s congressional campaign of $1,500 on June 29, 2005, and $1,000 on June 27; 2006, and contributions of $3,000 on Nov. 1, 2007, and $1,000 on Oct. 8, 2008, to his gubernatorial campaign.