Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana criticized President Barack Obama’s education policies and his management of veterans affairs at the start of the three-day Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.
“There are too many children trapped in failing schools all across the United States,” Governor Jindal, a possible presidential contender in 2016, told a packed audience at the Hilton Riverside Hotel ballroom.
Governor Jindal, a Republican, lambasted President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder for the administration’s education policies, which he said have left schools without the support they need to properly teach and advance students.
“Eric Holder or Obama wouldn’t send their children to these failing schools,” Governor Jindal said, eliciting cheers. He then touted Louisiana’s education system, which includes charter schools, offers scholarships to private schools and promotes parental choice.
“Parents are the first and best educators,” Governor Jindal said. “Ninety percent of our kids are in charter schools. We need to trust the American people.”
After a 20-minute speech, he met with journalists in a private room. There, he again expressed his disapproval of the Obama administration, which he called incompetent for its handling of problems at the nation’s Veterans Affairs medical centers. The hospitals have been plagued by backlogs in medical appointments for patients and long waits for disability and benefits claims.
“Like many Americans, I’m shocked and offended that this is how our own government would treat those brave men and women who run towards danger, not away from it, to defend us, to defend our liberties and our freedoms,” Governor Jindal said.
Eric K. Shinseki, 71, resigned as secretary of the Veteran Affairs Department on Friday as evidence mounted of widespread misconduct and mismanagement at the agency’s medical facilities.
Governor Jindal said the recent issues are an indication of President Obama’s lack of administrative experience. “You have a president who never ran a state, a business,” Governor Jindal. “Our veterans deserve better.”
When asked whether he would make a bid for the presidency, Governor Jindal said he would decide after the November midterm elections.
“It is something that I will think about with my wife and pray about,” Governor Jindal said.
In an unexpected visit, Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, also addressed the Republican Leadership Conference on Thursday. She agreed with Governor Jindal’s assessment of the Obama administration’s handling of the veterans affairs scandal.
“Unfortunately, the Obama doctrine dismisses the price our veterans have paid for our freedom,” Mrs. Palin, who was the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate, said in a statement. “Perhaps what our president doesn’t understand today is freedom isn’t free. If you love freedom, you thank a vet.”
Mrs. Palin later introduced Phil Robertson, a star of the reality television show “Duck Dynasty.” Last year, Mr. Robertson drew controversy over his remarks on homosexuality and gay marriage.
In Mr. Robertson’s address to conference attendees, he preached the importance of religious values.
“We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of all of us to govern ourselves on the Ten Commandments of God,” he said.