It was Mike Huckabee in 2008, then Rick Santorum in 2012.

Now, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is working Iowa hard with thehopes he could be the state’s surprise victor of2016.

“I think we’re doing verywell in Iowa,†Jindal said in a recent interview withThe Daily Caller about his new book “AmericanWill: The Forgotten Choices That Changed Our Republic— And Offer Lessons For ItsFuture.â€

“I think this entire race changes afterFebruary 1, after the caucus,†the Republicanpresidential candidate said. “I thinkwe’re going to win here in Iowa, and I thinkthat’s going to propel us forward to thenomination.â€

Jindal has a long way to go before the state votes in less than100 days: Iowa’s last two Republican winners,Huckabee and Santorum, are running again. Ben Carson, Donald Trumpand Ted Cruz are polling ahead of him too.

But a NBC poll this month showing Jindal in fifth place in Iowahas given him optimism, considering Santorum was barely registeringin the polls at this time four years ago before going on to win thestate’s caucuses.

Jindal has been to 53 of Iowa’s 99 countiesso far, doing town-hall meetings.

“We’re moving up inIowa,†he said.“We’re doing well.We’re seeing more and more crowds. I know votershere tend to decide late.â€

Talking about his new book, which came out last week, Jindalsaid: “So many of these political books are thesame old kind of boring recitations of different policyprescriptions or folks’ autobiography. I wantedto do something a little more interesting. So I wanted to actuallytell important stories about some of ourcountry’s key figures at pivotal and importantmoments in our nation’shistory.â€

Jindal, raised Hindu, also uses the book to talk about his ownlife and his conversion to Christianity as a young man. Hisparents, he recalls, weren’t thrilled with hisdecision.

“They were shocked by that,†herecalled in an interview. “I think they wentthrough different stages. At first it was something they needed tounderstand — why I was doing this, what thismeant, how serious was I, was this a fad?â€

Jindal said his conversion to Christianity was a process lastingseven years.

Asked about Hillary Clinton’s testimony lastweek on Benghazi, Jindal said: “This is aboutfour Americans that died, it’s about figuringhow and why that happened and how do we prevent that from happeningin the future.â€

“Secondly, it’s importantto step back and remember the only thing that Hillary Clinton hasever run has been this president’s foreignpolicy. It has been a failure everywhere around theworld.â€

Citing Russia, Iran, China and ISIS, Jindal said:“This whole idea of leading from behindhasn’t worked. Projecting weakness has onlyemboldened our adversaries, and it has been an absolute failureeverywhere around the world. Our friends don’ttrust us and our enemies don’t fear and respectus.â€

Asked about Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s likelyascension to speaker of the House next week, Jindal said:“I like Paul. We served together. I thinkhe’s a smart guy. I thinkhe’s a principled guy.â€

“Here are the questions I would ask, whetherit’s Paul or anybody else that wants to bespeaker, if I were still in the conference,†Jindalsaid. “I’d want to know willour leadership make a commitment to fight for our principles, justas hard as Pelosi and Reid and Obama will fight fortheirs?â€

Jindal says he will participate in nextweek’s undercard debate in Colorado, somethinghis campaign had suggested was up in the air while they argued heshould be included in the prime-time debate with those polling atthe top of the field.

“I’m happy to debateanybody anywhere anytime,†he said.

The Republican said the RNC and the networks hosting the debateare making a mistake by using national polls, instead of polls inthe early states, to determine who gets to participate in theprimetime debate.

“The reality is we don’thave a national primary,†he said.“I think it’s a mistake totry to clear the field. I think the RNC should be paying attentionto where the voters are, the first votes are counted in these earlystates.â€

“If they did,†he added,“obviously we’d be on themain stage.â€

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