Republican U.S. presidential candidate Rick Perry had a helping hand on the campaign trail in Iowa this week from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who could one day be testing political fortunes of his own in the crucial early-voting state.
Jindal joined Perry on his campaign bus, with "Faith, Jobs, and Freedom" plastered on its side, as the Texas governor spoke to residents in the southeastern part of the state.
Perry, struggling nationally and ranking fourth in the most recent Des Moines Register poll in Iowa, seemed energized to have his neighbor traveling along with him. The Texan was at his sharpest and most enthusiastic when he had Jindal to warm up the crowd.
Jindal played up his down-home bona fides.
"I know this is warm to you, for a Louisiana boy there is nothing warm about these days," he told 150 people at the Button Factory Woodfire Grille in Muscatine, Iowa, on Wednesday.
A rising star of the Republican party, Jindal suffered a setback in 2009 when his speech to rebut an address to Congress by President Barack Obama was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans.
He appeared to suggest that government should not be trusted because it failed in the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
But he has recovered somewhat since then.
The country's second-youngest governor at age 40, he will be sworn in for his second term starting in January after cruising to re-election. He is often named among the top tier of the Republican Party's future leadership.
Introducing himself to Iowa voters this year could pay dividends in the next election cycle should Jindal decide to throw his hat in the 2016 presidential race as is often speculated.
"You need to build a network and getting to know people here helps," said Matt Whitaker, Perry's state co-chair and a former U.S. attorney.
Jindal helped provide the contrasts that Perry is trying to draw between himself and the two Republicans leading in national polls, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
In television ads airing throughout Iowa, Perry is pillorying the pair for their connections to Washington and Wall Street. With Jindal at his side, it gave ballast to the claim that Perry has avoided what he calls "the taint" of those two power centers.
Jindal's presence also gave support to the heart of Perry's appeal to Iowans this month - that the key to fixing the federal government is returning power to the states.
Perry is not known as a polished speaker. When asked by an audience member in Muscatine how often he prayed, Perry said, "I prayed right before I walked over here that I wouldn't make any mistakes and my friends in the media would be able to put on the television. I pray often. I pray a lot because I'm prone to make a lot of mistakes."
But at campaign stops, he recites from memory the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which entrusts states with the rights not given to the federal government. Perry offered Jindal as evidence of the success that states can have when unhindered by Washington.
In turn, Jindal praised Perry as the kind of can-do leader who maintains a decisiveness which the Louisianan said he found lacking in the Obama administration.
"President Obama may be one of the greatest speakers we have seen in a generation. But he hasn't run anything," Jindal said on Wednesday. "He didn't have experience running anything until he was elected president of the United States. These times are too important for us to afford on the job training." (Editing by Alistair Bell and Vicki Allen)
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