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Five things to know about Bobby Jindal

Better late than never, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is expected to jump into the 2016 presidential race on Wednesday.

The Republican, first elected in 2007 and reelected in 2011, will announce his plans during a rally outside of New Orleans. In his speech, one of his advisers told CBS News, "you'll hear him say he's fearless on taking on Washington and he'll do the things you can't do, say the things you can't say. He'll rock the boat."

Jindal has, for years, been touted as a rising star in his party. In 2001, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, and in 2005, he became the second Indian-American elected to Congress, serving in the House of Representatives through 2008. He later became the first Indian-American elected governor in U.S. history.

Gov. Bobby Jindal: D.C. disconnected from the rest of America

A son of Indian immigrants, Jindal's heritage made him a rock star virtually overnight in a party that's struggled to project diversity. But that prominence hasn't always served him well.

There was his awkward response to President Obama's 2009 State of the Union, which was panned by Republicans and Democrats alike and birthed more than a few comparisons between Jindal and Kenneth the Page, a lovably dopey character on NBC's "30 Rock."

There's also the matter of his slipping approval ratings in Louisiana, and whether they might undermine Jindal as he steps onto the national stage.

With 12 other Republicans competing for the nomination (and at least three others on the cusp of announcing a bid) Jindal has his work cut out for him on the campaign trail. He's currently languishing at the rear of the pack in early primary polls.

Here are five things you should know about Bobby Jindal.

His name is not actually "Bobby"

In this 2007 file photo, Louisiana Governor-elect Bobby Jindal (C) and his wife Supriya Jindal (2L) pose with an Indian-American family during a rally at the Kenner City Park Pavilion in Kenner, Louisiana, a bus stop on his "Thank you" tour across the state. Matthew HINTON/AFP/Getty Images

When Jindal was born in 1971, parents named him "Piyush," which means "ambrosia" or "nectar" in Hindi. In an interview on CBS News' "60 Minutes" in 2009, Jindal explained why he chose to identify as "Bobby" instead: "Every day after school, I'd come home and I'd watch 'The Brady Bunch.' And I identified with Bobby, you know? He was about my age, and Bobby stuck."

Bobby Jindal: The Future Of The GOP?

He's framed his parents' immigration story as an example of the American dream come to life. But he's also taken pains not to overplay the diversity card, stressing the importance of immigrants assimilating into American culture.

"My dad and mom told my brother and me that we came to America to be Americans. Not Indian-Americans, simply Americans. If we wanted to be Indians, we would have stayed in India," he said during a speech in London in January. "I am not suggesting for one second that people should be shy or embarrassed about their ethnic heritage. But I am explicitly saying that it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within."

"I do not believe in hyphenated Americans," he added.

In February, a mini controversy erupted over a portrait of Jindal that was on display in the governor's office. In it, Jindal was depicted with noticeably lighter skin than he has in real life, and some critics accused the governor of trying to downplay his heritage. After some mistakenly identified the painting as Jindal's official portrait, his chief of staff, Kyle Plotkin, set the record straight, tweeting a picture of the official portrait and thanking Jindal's critics for their "race-baiting."

He wants to be the GOP's new "ideas man"

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks during the NRA's Celebration of American Values Leadership Forum at the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits April 13, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. Whitney Curtis, Getty Images

Jindal has warned his party that it must advance a positive vision for America's future, rather than simply standing in opposition to President Obama's policies.

"We must stop being the stupid party," Jindal told the Republican National Committee in 2013. "I'm serious. It's time for a new Republican party that talks like adults. It's time for us to articulate our plans and visions for America in real terms."

To that end, Jindal has published a number of detail-heavy "white papers" through his conservative policy group, "America Next." The documents tackle everything from national defense to tax policy to education, and they represent perhaps the most robust policy platform advanced by any Republican in the 2016 bullpen.

By getting down to such a granular level, Jindal risks exposing himself to political attacks that might fall flat against foes with murkier policy prescriptions. But he could also counter that he's concentrating on governing while his opponents are concentrating on each other.

He's reaching for the mantle of the GOP's "ideas man," previously held by such figures as Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich. Whether his presidential bid will gain any more traction than those of Kemp and Gingrich remains to be seen.

He has changed his tune on common core

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks during the "Road to Majority" conference as his hand is reflected June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong, Getty Images

Common core state education standards have emerged as one of the major fault lines in the 2016 GOP primary. The standards specify what students are supposed to know by each grade level. And though each state is responsible for deciding whether to implement the standards, and what those standards should look like, the federal government has pushed states to enact high standards by linking federal grant money to their adoption. Conservatives see that as an improper intrusion by the federal government into education policy, which is traditionally set at the state level.

Hot-button issue: Common Core standardized tests

The common core initiative was launched in 2009, and Louisiana adopted its set of standards in 2010 with Jindal's support. In 2012, he selected a common core supporter, John White, as his state education chief, and he suggested the standards "will raise expectations for every child."

As the standards have come under conservative fire, though, Jindal's position has changed. He now says he supported the standards when they were a state-led matter, but he cannot support the federal "takeover" of education policy they've become. He's taken numerous steps to stop Common Core's implementation in Louisiana, as Politifact chronicles: "He sued the Obama administration over the national implementation of Common Core in 2014 (and he's been sued for his repudiation). He asked Common Core to withdraw from the state. He broke with his own education head, an "exceptional" and "unusual" move, according to Ashley Jochim, who studies Common Core at the Center for Reinventing Public Education. He proposed an opt-out option for students in early 2015. He issued an executive order to repeal Common Core in Louisiana in 2014 and came up with a legislative plan as well."

Politifact rated Jindal's change of heart on the issue a "full flop," indicating a complete reversal from his prior position.

He’s extremely unpopular in Louisiana, polls show

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal listens to a speaker at the Story County GOP breakfast at Oakwood Church May 16, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. Scott Olson, Getty Images

Jindal won the governor's office in 2007 with 54 percent support, and he was reelected in 2011 with 66 percent of the vote.

Since then, thanks partly to state budget disputes, it's been a rocky ride for Jindal in the eyes of Louisiana voters, according to polling data.

In April 2013, Southern Media and Opinion Research found Jindal's approval rating at 38 percent - down 13 points from the previous October. The same pollster found Jindal's ratings rebounding to 48 percent in 2014. But by May 2015, Jindal's approval had fallen to 31 percent in the survey.

The diminishing popularity could handicap Jindal on the campaign trail, leading to questions about why the nation's voters should elect him when many of the voters in his own state hold him in such low esteem.

Jindal can take solace in this, at least: he's not the only Republican eyeing 2016 who will have to answer for home state polling woes. Both New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have seen polls in recent months pointing to a decline in popularity at home.

Religion has been a big theme in his life

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. Scott Olson, Getty Images

Jindal was born into a Hindu family, but he converted to Christianity as a teenager, and later to Catholicism. When he married his wife Supriya, they held both a Hindu and a Catholic ceremony.

The governor has touted his conversion story before Christian audiences, recalling how he used to read the Bible in his bedroom at night. It could be a powerful message for Jindal as he seeks to court evangelical Christians during the Republican primary.

Are “religious freedom” bills a turning point?

Jindal's Christianity isn't just a matter of personal identity, though - it's a foundational underpinning of his approach to governance. He's an outspoken opponent of a woman's right to have an abortion and the right of gay couples to marry. He also condemned the mandate in Obamacare that requires employers to offer health insurance that covers contraception, though that mandate was weakened by the Supreme Court in 2014.

Most recently, Jindal authored an executive order in May to protect the right of Louisiana business owners to decline to serve events they find morally objectionable, like same-sex weddings. Critics said Jindal's executive order gave businesses a license to discriminate against gay people, but Jindal argued he was only hoping to protect freedom of conscience.

"In Louisiana, the state should not be able to take adverse action against a person for their belief in traditional marriage," the governor explained, according to Politico. "We don't support discrimination in Louisiana and we do support religious liberty. These two values can be upheld at the same time."

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