Politics

Bobby Jindal Backs Out Of Politico’s Annual Governors Debate

A schedule released by Gov. Shumlin last Friday shows Jindal on the program, but the governor is no longer slated to attend. A spokesman says the Shumlin schedule was premature. [Updated]

Larry Downing / Reuters

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has called off a scheduled appearance Friday at Politico’s third-annual debate between the chairs of the Republican and Democratic governors on the occasion of the National Governors Association winter meeting this weekend in Washington, D.C.

The news organization has hosted an RGA-NGA debate two years running as a feature of its State Solutions Conference, held in tandem with the annual governors meeting. Gov. Martin O’Malley, former chair of the DGA, sparred with his then-RGA counterparts, Gov. Rick Perry in 2011, and Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2012.

Jindal was slated to appear alongside current DGA chair — Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont — according to an official schedule emailed to members of the press last Friday, Feb. 16, by a member of Shumlin’s staff.

“Governor Shumlin and RGA Chair Governor Bobby Jindal discuss and debate challenges facing states as part of Politico’s State Solution Conference,” the schedule read.

But when Politico announced the States Solutions Conference schedule Wednesday evening, Jindal was not listed as a participant — although he is still set to appear this weekend in Washington for the National Governors Association meeting. Shumlin, according to the Politico press release, will now appear solo Friday morning, followed by a panel later in the afternoon with Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Jindal’s apparent cancellation was preceded by a Politico article — published Sunday morning under the headline, “Bobby Jindal is governing like it’s 2016” — that presents voices critical of the Louisiana governor for focusing on a potential presidential bid, and for advancing policy aimed at “future GOP voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

(The Jindal camp, evidently, had its problems with the piece. The day after Politico published the report, the governor’s communications director, Kyle Plotkin, tweeted the link to an article written by conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who took issue with a number of factual claims in the piece and called it proof that “journalism is a dying and biased industry.”)

Plotkin did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.

A spokesperson for Politico, reached by email Wednesday afternoon, told BuzzFeed, “We had invited Gov. Jindal to join us, but for scheduling reasons it didn’t work out.”

Asked about the schedule Shumlin’s office released last week, the spokesperson said, “We hadn’t officially announced the speakers for the event until now.”

Update: Plotkin emailed BuzzFeed Wednesday evening to say that the Politico story had nothing to do with the event in question. “Governor Shumlin’s office prematurely released a schedule with an event that was never confirmed,” Plotkin said. “The Governor [Jindal] isn’t arriving in D.C. until Friday afternoon while the POLITICO event is scheduled for Friday morning.”

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