I was very fortunate to be invited to attend a small dinner party with Governor Bobby Jindal Wednesday night.
“This dinner was not intended to be a “news conference” that would deliver some exclusive story. It was certainly not intended to slight anyone in the media. This was a dinner meant to be relaxed, friendly, and “off-the-record”. I have never considered myself a reporter, but more a political activist. My support and loyalty for Governor Jindal has never been in question and I see no chance of that changing, except to grow.”
Nevertheless, I had fully intended to press the Governor on the issue of him possibly being Senator John McCain’s running mate in the upcoming Presidential election. When the invitation was extended to me, I forewarned Melissa Sellers, the Governor’s Press Secretary, who also attended the dinner party, of my concerns and my intentions. Since I was not immediately removed from the guest list, it was easy for me to believe that Melissa had no worries of those concerns or my intentions. I am very pleased to say that my fears of Louisiana losing the best Governor this state has had in my lifetime have been eased considerably. I now believe, short of a catastrophic event, Governor Bobby Jindal WILL NOT be accepting any offers to be Senator John McCain’s running mate. This is, of course, just my own opinion.
I have met Governor Jindal several times over the past year during the campaign, right after his history making election, at his inauguration, and at press conferences since, but this dinner party was totally different. It was “up close and personal”.
Ben Domenech, along with Erick Erickson and Mary Katherine Ham, organized the dinner party and I could not be more grateful that they included me in their plans. I am equally grateful that they managed to expand that guest list to include my good friend, and fellow blogger, Nick Bouterie, also known as the “Conservative Cajun”.
Ben Domenech is the co-founder of the very popular website Red State.com. Ben has a very extensive background in journalism and politics. He began as a teenage pundit for The National Review Online. Ben had a short and controversial (possibly political) stint with The Washington Post, but recovered nicely to become Co-Founder and Director of Red State and is also currently Editor and Chief of an academic journal, The City. In politics, Ben was the youngest political appointee in the G. W. Bush Administration, was a speech writer for H.H.S. Secretary, Tommy Thompson, and Chief Speechwriter for Texas Senator, John Cornyn.
Erick Erickson is the Editor and Chairman of the Board of Red State. Erick is a graduate of Mercer University’s School of Law in Georgia and is an accomplished political consultant at all levels of government. Erick is a member of the city council of Macon, Georgia and was recently voted the sixty-ninth most influential conservative in the United States by the London Telegraph.
Mary Katherine Ham, an Alabama beauty matched with an abundance of brains, is the Managing Editor of Townhall.com and a featured regular on The O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Mary Katherine is much further accomplished with several awards, and works with many other journalists to include her work with Michelle Malkin and Vent.
Also a part of Ben’s entourage was Steve Maley of Lafayette, LA, who is a contributing blogger on Red State.com.
When Nick and I arrived on the Fourth Floor, Ben met us at the elevator and escorted us to meet Timmy Teeple, Governor Jindal’s Chief of Staff, where we all met before moving on to the Governor’s Mansion to meet with Governor Jindal. Actually, I had already met Timmy during the campaign at the Memorial Day Celebration in Monroe.
When entering the gates at the Governor’s Mansion, I was lucky to get a wave off to my friend Kellie Derouen, who was Governor Jindal’s Campaign Political Director and now part of his staff. Kellie worked very hard during the campaign and we met several times during the past year, one of my favorites being at the Mayhaw Festival where I first met Melissa. Kellie was leaving the Mansion as I was coming in, riding in the back of Timmy’s open Jeep. No worries, the weather was great.
After milling around the first floor of the Mansion for a brief time, Governor Jindal came downstairs to greet us and gave us all a tour of the lower level with a history of the furnishings and murals. After the tour we moved on into the dining room and enjoyed a great meal and a wonderful conversation with the greatest Gift this state has ever received, Governor Bobby Jindal.
Unlike the very fast-paced events of the campaign and press conferences with the crowds of people maneuvering to get their picture with the Governor, this dinner party was totally different. There were a total of nine people in the room, we were all sitting down (something I have rarely seen the Governor do), and we spent just over two hours enjoying a very personal, informative, and humorous conversation.
I have written in the past that my first ever interview with then gubernatorial candidate Congressman Bobby Jindal was an experience of a lifetime. Later, but yet to be published, was the greater experience of attending the Republican Legislator’s Reception with both Governor-elect Jindal and Senator-elect Mike Walsworth. That experience was then trumped by sitting on the floor of the Senate and watching my great friend Senator Mike Walsworth be sworn into office and then moving on to see Governor Jindal sworn into office. Going even further up that ladder of experiences was attending the Governor’s Inauguration Ball with my wife, Nancy, Senator Walsworth, and my dear friend Mrs. Greta Jones.
Well, I might have traded all of those experiences for my dinner with the Governor, but it sure made the dinner much better that I did not have to do that. I cannot imagine how this latest experience is going to be topped, but given all of these experiences happened in just one year with a steady ascension, I am filled with anticipation for that possibility and with greater anticipation, I am looking forward to Governor Jindal’s re-election.
(Revision: The great thing about writing on an Internet blog is its unique ability to edit. With the spoken word it is usually not an option to go back and “redo” a speech. Certainly you can rewrite the speech, but most likely the audience is different. With the printed word, such as a newspaper or magazine, the only thing really feasible is a “correction” which often times is meaningless to the first-time reader, especially if they do not have access to the source that contained the originally flawed article. Anyway, with more thought I realized that I did not explain very well the reason for this dinner with Governor Jindal and the paragraph above with blue quote marks was added after the article was originally published. Luckily this epiphany came to me before this article was very old. I could have left this explanation out completely, I guess, and most would have never known the difference, but hey,…where is the truth in that?)