COLUMBIA, S.C. — In a fiery and well-received speech to Republicans here Friday evening, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal sharply criticized the Obama administration's handling of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release, and accused the president of cavalierly ignoring U.S. law.
Headlining the South Carolina GOP's annual Silver Elephant Dinner, Jindal recited a litany of critiques of the White House, energizing the crowd with attacks on President Obama's education policy, and his approach to religious freedom issues.
But Jindal, a prospective 2016 presidential candidate, said he was particularly troubled by the administration's foreign policy.
"Apparently, our president has adopted a catch-and-release policy toward terrorists," Jindal said, referencing the decision to trade five Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl's freedom.
"I just want to make sure we're on the same page. I've got three simple questions for you," Jindal told the crowd, before entering into a call-and-response portion of his speech.
"Do you think it makes sense for the president of the United States to be negotiating with terrorists?"
"No!" the audience of well-dressed Republicans responded in unison.
"Do you think it makes sense for the president of the United States to have the unilateral right to simply break and ignore American law whenever he chooses?"
"Do you think it makes sense for the president of the United States to release five Taliban members who may make it their lives' mission to attack not only Americans, but our way of life, our values, what we believe in — does it make sense for the president of the United States to let these terrorists go?"
The energetic reception to Jindal's criticism Friday evening illustrates just how potent an issue the Bergdahl release has become on the right in a few short days. Since the details of the prisoner exchange came to light, it has received wall-to-wall coverage in conservative media and drawn criticism from lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who say the administration failed to adequately consult with Congress.
Jindal, whose political record is built largely on conservative domestic issues like school choice, has been working to expand his policy repertoire with a series of op-eds over the past year. He outlined his opposition to Obama's handling of the Bergdahl case in an article on FoxNews.com earlier this week.
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at email@example.com.
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