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Jindal Calls on GOP to Form ‘Loyal Opposition’

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) gave House Republicans a gut check Tuesday night as he addressed the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual dinner.

An energetic Jindal told 1,200 partisans that Republicans are finished “navel gazing” on the direction of their party and must be prepared to rebound.

“We need to worry more about fixing our country and helping to chart America’s future,” Jindal said.

The dinner raised more than $6 million, according to NRCC officials, $1 million more than the committee’s stated goal. The dinner serves not only as the committee’s largest solo fundraising event of the year, but also as a proving ground for the big names in the party who address the crowd. Former President George W. Bush has addressed the dinner audience in recent years, pulling in millions of dollars for the committee each time.

A particularly partisan Jindal addressed the crowd minutes before President Barack Obama held a nationally televised press conference. Jindal did not mince words, criticizing the Democrats for liberal spending practices and plans to expand government.

“I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t look like the Barack Obama we met on the campaign trail,” he said. “I don’t know about you, but I liked that guy a lot better.”

In his remarks, Jindal asked his party to be one of “loyal opposition” while Democrats control Congress and the White House, accusing the majority party of political incorrectness for asking Republicans if they want Obama “to fail.”

“When and if the president pursues those policies, I do not want him to fail,” Jindal said. “I want him to succeed. However, when the president wants us to spend our country into debt, interminable debt ... we oppose that policy not because we want the president to fail, but because we want Americans to succeed.”

Jindal is considered a rising star in the Republican Party, but his presentation of the GOP’s rebuttal to Obama’s address to Congress last month was universally panned.

“They’re not allowed to show my speech to the folks at Gitmo anymore,” Jindal quipped, referring to the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba. Jindal addressed the crowd at the National Building Museum, where they dined on red-pepper-glazed tenderloin after his remarks.

The dinner’s chairman, Rep. Peter Roskam (Ill.), recalled his first bid for Congress in 2006 when he faced an opponent with heavy backing from national Democrats. He said he remembered seeing his first piece of direct mail arrive from the NRCC on behalf of his campaign — an example of the kind of intervening help, he said, that pushed him to victory on Election Day.

“You know who came and rescued me? You did,” Roskam said, gesturing toward the crowd. According to organizers, 95 percent of House GOP Members participated in fundraising for the dinner under Roskam’s leadership. Together they surpassed last year’s Member fundraising totals by $27,000, despite having a smaller Conference than the 110th Congress.

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