Bobby Jindal: The GOP's Rising Star?

Morley Safer Profiles Louisiana's Gov., Who Some Think May Run For The White House One Day

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If you watched the Republican response to President Obama's address to Congress last Tuesday, you saw a rather awkward young man taking his best shot following one of the most powerful political orators the country has seen in ages.

While Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, may not be quite ready for primetime, he does represent the party's attempt to broaden its base, to attract minorities - in short to reinvent itself. It's pretty remarkable for a 37-year-old first generation American policy wonk to be regarded as the Grand Old Party's new young savior.

In New Orleans' Jackson Square, the strains of "Sweet Georgia Brown" accompany just about the most popular, yet unlikely, man in town: Bobby Jindal.

Jindal is not a musician, nor a restaurateur, but a mere governor, who after the Katrina debacle, is trying to put the "big un-easy" back on dry land. When asked by a tourist whether he'd be our next president, the governor replied, "No, no. I need to fix my state."

The son of immigrants, Ivy League educated, and all of 37 years old, Jindal has been called the great beige hope of the Republican Party.

"I think the Republican Party needs to stop thinking about who's the next messenger, is they need to stop thinking about how do they fix their party. We need to start thinking about how do we help fix our country?" Jindal told Safer.

He is the first non-white governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction, and in a state that has been described as "half under water, half under indictment," he's a far cry from what Louisiana voters had taken for granted: lily-white good ole boys who made more headlines for scandal and corruption than for governance.

This eager and ambitious young whirlwind is determined to change all that. He doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't swear and relentlessly hammers his message that the days of corruption and incompetence are over.

"I'm not going to take no for an answer on reforming our ethics laws," he said on election night.

"I think what voters were saying when elected me, 'We're tired of the past. We're tired of corrupt politics. We're tried of the same old politicians. We know we're better than that,'" Jindal told 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer.

"But one of the appeals of New Orleans and Louisiana was that it wasn't on the good list, that there was something wonderfully exotic and bad about New Orleans," Safer pointed out.

"We'll let Illinois have that reputation for a little while," Jindal replied.

If Jindal can truly change "business as usual" in Louisiana, it may be because he's an outsider. The son of immigrants who arrived from India in the early 70s, he was born in Baton Rouge. His mother earned a doctorate in nuclear physics; his father was a civil engineer.

Asked if he felt any racial tension growing up in Baton Rouge, Jindal said, "Not at all. You know, this has been a great place to grow up. The great thing about the people of Louisiana is that they accept you based on who you are."

That's quite a declaration in a state that not so long ago gave former Ku Klux Klansmen David Duke nearly 40 percent of the vote.

But that sunny "Leave it to Beaver" optimism is classic Bobby Jindal, a man so determined to be true blue American, he changed his name.

When he was born, Jindal was named Piyush. Asked where the name Bobby came from, Jindal told Safer, "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."