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Rothenberg: Rubio and Jindal Are Allies Now, Adversaries Maybe Later

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rubio, above, and Jindal are currently allies in a rather risky effort to redefine the Republican Partyís image, Stuart Rothenberg writes, but both are considered potential favorites for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have already been tabbed as among the front-runners for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Not surprisingly, the narrative you will hear will present them as adversaries.

But Rubio and Jindal are currently allies in a rather risky effort to redefine the Republican Partyís image and resurrect a once valuable brand that has been degraded over the past six years. Whether they will succeed before the next presidential contest is unclear; itís also unclear whether one, or both, will be damaged politically by their efforts.

Oddly, Rubio and Jindal are more similar than different.

Born less than two weeks apart in 1971, both men have parents who were immigrants to this country ó from Cuba and India ó and both interned for GOP members of Congress (Rubio for Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Jindal for former Louisiana Rep. Jim McCrery).

Both Republicans had less than scintillating performances, at least stylistically, delivering a State of the Union response ó Jindalís kindergarten-like delivery was in 2009, while Rubioís water-reach moment occurred Tuesday night. (Of course, Rubioís reach for bottled water was funny, a bit embarrassing and completely irrelevant to his political future.)

Academically, Jindalís credentials are more impressive. While Rubio graduated from the University of Florida and holds a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law, Jindal double-majored at Brown University, graduating with honors in both public policy and biology.

He was accepted by both Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School but turned both down to be a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, where he studied political science and health policy.

Both Rubio and Jindal proved to be successful politically at relatively young ages. The Florida senator was elected to the state legislature when he was 28. Five years later, he became speaker of the state House and in 2010, Rubio won a three-way race for the Senate after first scaring the stateís sitting governor out of the Republican primary.

At only 24, Jindal was appointed to run Louisianaís Department of Health and Hospitals. Two years later, he was executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare.

Jindal narrowly lost a gubernatorial bid in 2003 (underperforming in conservative areas in North Louisiana), but he was elected to Congress in 2004, at age 33, and as governor in 2007. Four years later, Jindal won re-election with two-thirds of the vote.

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