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Gov. Bobby Jindal on rejecting the Iran deal, how U.S. could become a Greek tragedy

July 14, 2015 at 6:30 PM EST
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican presidential candidate, joins Gwen Ifill to discuss how he would roll back the Iran nuclear agreement, cutting the budget in his state and whether the U.S. is in danger of becoming the next Greece, his views on immigration and heritage, plus making his voice heard amid a crowded field of GOP contenders.
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GWEN IFILL: The Iran nuclear deal is just one of the many issues that could be turned inside out by the next president of the United States.

We turn now to another of our periodic conversations with the candidates running for the job, Republican Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana.

Welcome, Governor.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, Republican Presidential Candidate: Gwen, thank you for having me.

GWEN IFILL: You said today that this would be a dangerous deal, this Iran deal that the president announced today. Have you had a chance to study it? Why do you feel that?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: I have, Gwen.

And this is why I think it is a bad deal for the United States, for Israel and our allies. Several details that are troubling, so Iran keeps thousands of centrifuges, instead of giving up all of their enrichment capacity. We don’t truly get anytime/anywhere inspections. They’re not cutting off their ties to Hamas, Hezbollah, these other terrorist groups.

There are other issues I have got with this deal as well. I worry, under this president’s deal, we could end up with a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. You could see Sunni countries now trying to buy this technology from Pakistan.

I hope that Secretary Clinton, who’s been the architect of this president’s foreign policy, will come out and oppose this deal and say it’s time for America to stand with Israel. There is still time for America to come out and say, we will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power.

So, there are several things I don’t like about this deal. When they first started negotiating this deal, the president himself said that we were going to get anytime/anywhere inspections, they wouldn’t be allowed to keep any enrichment capacity. Unfortunately, that’s not what this deal does.

GWEN IFILL: Well, Secretary Kerry, the current secretary of state, said today that people who criticize it, as you just have, don’t have an alternative.

As president, not as a candidate for president, what would you do to roll this back?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: Well, Gwen, I actually think we have a lot of leverage right now, falling oil prices. The Iranian economy is in very, very deep trouble.

I think, with tougher sanctions, with a White House strategy that says every option is on the table, we will stop the Iranian regime, this Iranian government from having a nuclear capability. We need to understand this is a regime or this is a country where they’re still chanting death to America, death to Israel. They still haven’t released their American prisoners. They still haven’t rejected, cut off ties to terrorism.

Secretary Kerry himself has said they are a state sponsor of terrorism, recently saying that they are one of the largest state sponsors of terrorism in the entire world. This is a country we cannot afford to allow to become a nuclear power.

So, I think every option needs to be on the table. We need to negotiate from strength. This president too often has said what he wouldn’t do, instead of what he would do. I hope Secretary Clinton will come out and others in the Democratic Party will come out and say, with not just Republicans, but on a bipartisan basis, that this is an American issue, not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is bad for the region.

GWEN IFILL: Well, assuming that you have to get past 14 other Republican candidates before you get to Secretary Clinton, I want to ask you a little bit more about yourself first.

You said, among other things, that you don’t like the idea of hyphenated Americans. Obviously, you’re of Indian heritage. What do you about — to people of, say, Italian-American heritage who think that you’re asking them to set that heritage aside?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: Well, Gwen, the great thing about America is, we’re a wonderful melting pot.

Folks can be proud of their heritage. But I think the hyphenations, the divisions are keeping us apart. We’re not Italian-Americans or Indian-Americans or African-Americans or Asian-Americans or rich Americans or poor Americans. We’re all Americans.

Look, my parents are proud of their Indian heritage, but they chose to come here over 40 years ago in search of the American dream. They wanted to raise their kids as Americans. That’s why they came here. What I worry about is, I look to Europe. You have got second-, third-generation immigrants that don’t consider themselves parts of those societies.

I think it’s reasonable to say, if folks want to come here, they should come legally, learn English, adopt our values, roll up their sleeves, get to work. Look, I think it’s common sense to say, if you want to come here, you should want to be an American. Otherwise, why are you coming here? We can still embrace our Italian heritage or our old country heritages, but we should be Americans. Stop the hyphenated Americans.

GWEN IFILL: And I want to ask you about another one of your Republican competitors. And, of course, that is Donald Trump, who has been sucking a lot of the air out.

Today, there’s a new poll, a small poll, not a necessarily representative poll, but showing him at least by name recognition doing fairly well. Do you agree with his approach and the words in particular that he used to describe the immigration problem?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: No, Gwen. I do not. And I have said I don’t agree with his comments.

I don’t view people as members of ethnic groups or economic groups. But, look, I think folks in D.C. need to calm down here. The funny thing is, every time they attack Donald, I actually think he enjoys it. And I think he gets the best of those exchanges.

I think there is political correctness run amok in D.C. You saw the bill last week where they tried to — one congresswoman tried to stop the use of the word husband and wife. This is a free country. And the great thing on the Republican side is, we have got a lot of candidates running. It will be an open debate, unlike on the Democratic side.

The voters will get to decide, not the establishment. I know the RNC tried to get him to tone down or try to sensor him. And I think that’s a mistake. Let folks debate it out. Obviously, I think I’m better qualified. I think people should vote for me, instead of him or the others running.

But the good news is, this is an open and free debate. There’s a First Amendment. Let the voters decide. Let’s stop trying to be political correct. Now, look, obviously, he enjoys the controversy. I think he actually benefits from it.

GWEN IFILL: Well, I’m sure that’s true as well.

But speaking of debates, how do you get on to a debate stage which is so crowded and which, at least in the first two instances, they’re saying only the people who rank the highest, top 10, will make it onto that stage? How do you get your message out if you don’t make it onto that stage?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: Well, Gwen, that’s a great question.

And you said something earlier I want to come back to about this being about name I.D. And that’s really what the polls are right now. It is really a beauty contest. At this point, if you have run for president before, if you have a famous last night name, if you’re in D.C. in the Senate and in front of the cable news cameras every day, then obviously you have more name I.D. I think, if Tom Brady got in this race, he would probably be first in terms of the national polls now.

The reality is this. The voters are going to get to decide, not the D.C. establishment, not the donors in New York. I’m spending my time in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in other states talking directly to voters. We’re getting a great response at every town hall, getting hundreds and hundreds of people coming out.

We’re staying afterwards until the last person leaves, answering everybody’s questions. I think voters are saying we don’t want just somebody who is going to give a good speech. We want somebody who is going to embrace our principles.

Jeb Bush says you have got to be willing to lose the primary in order to win the general. Gwen, I disagree with that. When the establishment says that, they’re saying, stop being conservative. Try to get the left and the media to like you. I think voters are saying, we want somebody who is going to repeal Obamacare, secure the border, stand with Israel, somebody who is going to shrink the size of government, somebody who is going to stand up to radical Islamic terrorism.

So, we’re going out and directly talking to voters. We have had a great response. We’re going to continue to do that.

GWEN IFILL: Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Republican candidate for president, thank you for joining us. We will be talking again.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: Gwen, thank you for having me.

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