Gov. Bobby Jindal on Leadership During Natural Disasters

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," July 29, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DAVID ASMAN, GUEST HOST: Well, who could possibly forget what President Bush and the people of New Orleans went through at the time of Hurricane Katrina? The famous incident of the president passing over New Orleans from air is, in many people's mind, what led to the diminution of his ratings in the polls, now bringing it down to such a low point.

A person who is very interested in what was happening there and really turned the tide for the reputation of the Republican Party after that by doing something on the ground to the victims of Hurricane Katrina is our next guest, Governor Bobby Jindal, who joins us now from New Orleans.

Governor, great to see you. Thanks very much for coming in.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, R-LA.: Well, thank you for having me on the air today.

ASMAN: I appreciate it.

Now, far be it from anybody, even a — even a fellow governor, to tell Schwarzenegger what to do, but do you think the governor's got it under control?

JINDAL: Absolutely.

And I think so much of the hard work actually takes place — takes place before the disaster strikes. And I know that, here in Louisiana, we deal with hurricanes, not earthquakes. But we actually hired a deputy fire commissioner from Los Angeles to lead up our emergency office.

The hard work is before the — the earthquake. You know, you have got building codes in place. You have got interoperable communications. You have got emergency shelters. You have got cots. You have got food, water, ice. You have got contracts in place ahead of time, so that, God forbid, if that disaster happens, you're not scrambling.

There are detailed disaster plans. And I'm sure the governor went to the emergency operational center. His cabinet is there. They all know they have got distinct responsibilities. People — you do tabletop exercises. You do simulated exercises, so you're not learning for the first time. You drill with your federal partners, your local partners, your National Guard, and — and local law enforcement.

So, the reality is, states should be well-prepared. We know, out West, they have got wildfires and earthquakes. Here, in the South, we have got hurricanes. We have got tornadoes across much of our country. The important thing is preparation, not waiting until the event happens.

I think the contrast, you know, after Katrina, what you saw was that they didn't have enough contracts for buses. They didn't have the ice, the water, the food pre-positioned.

Now, certainly, this was a storm bigger than — than they expected. But I think the lesson going forward is that every state — certainly, it was a good reminder that every state needs to be prepared before a disaster happens. And, then, secondly, it is so important that families be prepared for — they have got some personal responsibility during these disasters as well.

ASMAN: Well, Governor, one thing that became absolutely clear during Katrina was the fact that everybody seemed to be throwing up their hands in that first week, and pointing to the other guy. There needs to be — whenever there is a natural emergency such as this, there needs to be somebody who's willing to come in and take charge in a very direct way, a Terminator sort of way.

Is that what was missing with Katrina? And is that what we now have in California?

JINDAL: Well, look, clearly, one of the reasons the military was so effective on the ground in Louisiana was, there was a clear chain of command. There was also a goals-oriented culture. They weren't worried about permission or paperwork. They just had the attitude of getting it done.

And I think it's so important, even before the disaster strikes, everybody knows who's in charge, who's going to take responsibility for which operations.

And, look, when something happens in your state, as a governor, you have got to willing to make those hard choices and not worry about taking the blame later. You need to be — you need to empower your people to make commonsense decisions.

You remember, during Katrina, you had truckloads of water, ice and food turned away because they didn't fill out the right forms, first- responders not allowed to help because they didn't have permission from the right people.

ASMAN: Right.

JINDAL: You have got to have a sense of urgency. You have got to — but, again, you can't create that when a disaster strikes.

You have got to drill and be prepared for that ahead of time. Having a unified chain of command, that's one of the reasons the military did such a great job. And a lot of not-for-profit, faith-based groups, private companies also helped us...


ASMAN: Sure. Oh, there were a lot of people that went out of their way and deserve a medal for what they did.

But, again, without having somebody that was directly in charge, a governor of the state that could have been as in charge as they should have been, there were a lot of things that — that slipped by during that disaster.

JINDAL: Well, and, you know, you can't worry about who gets credit or who gets blamed.

ASMAN: Right. Right.

JINDAL: You can't worry — the reality was, there was a lot of blame to go around at the state and the federal level. But the important thing is, never again. Here, in Louisiana, we will have a much more robust response. We have got interoperable communications, hardened shelters, preexisting contracts.

And, you know, we're not meeting folks for the first time during a disaster.

ASMAN: Right.

JINDAL: We know our partners. We have drilled with our partners.

But I can't emphasize enough, there also needs to be personal responsibility. We have educated our people, you better have food and water and batteries and flashlights and radios, have an evacuation plan.

Wherever you live in our country, you have got to — you know that the government will do a better job than what you saw during Katrina, but that doesn't remove your personal responsibility to also be prepared. It could be a terrorist attack, could be an earthquake, could be a tornado, or a hurricane, or a flood. Make sure you have got your prescriptions. Make sure you know where you take your pets, your kids. Make sure you know what you would do, God forbid, if a disaster struck your area.

ASMAN: All right, Governor Bobby Jindal, a lot of your positive ratings come directly because of what you have done after Katrina to get your state back in order, again, a Democratic state with a Republican governor.

Quickly, Governor, I have got to ask you, are you going to be the vice president — vice presidential candidate with John McCain?

JINDAL: I'm not.

We have got a lot more work to do in Louisiana. We have cut six taxes, reformed ethics, but we have just started. I'm voting for Senator McCain. I will help him get elected. But I will do it as governor of Louisiana.

ASMAN: Who else would you vote for besides — who else on the ticket? Who would you like to see as V.P.?

JINDAL: Well, you know, the great thing is, he's got a number of great choices. The only criterion he should use is who does he think could step in as president, God forbid, if that were to arise. Who does he think would do the — don't worry about geography. Don't worry about political considerations. Just pick who you think would do the best job if they were called to serve that way.

ASMAN: Well, you're still young.

Happy birthday, by the way.


ASMAN: On the 10th of July, you turned 37.

Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

JINDAL: Thank you very much.

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