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Jindal keeps cards close to chest

Bobby Jindal, apparently shortlisted for the Republican vice-presidentship ticket, refuses to spill the beans on what transpired at the weekend retreat with John McCain.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New York
UPDATED ON MAY 26, 2008 11:31 PM IST

Indian-American governor Bobby Jindal, apparently shortlisted for the Republican vice-presidentship ticket, refused to spill the beans on what transpired at the weekend retreat with party’s presumptive presidential nominee John McCain saying there was no “explicit talk” on the candidacy for the number two spot.

“There was never any explicit talk whatsoever about a shortlist, about vice-president, any of that,” Jindal, 36, the first Indian American governor, said after spending the weekend at an Arizona ranch where other favourites including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and governor Charlie Crist of Florida had also been invited by McCain.

However, the Louisiana governor did say he had several one-on-one moments with McCain during his stay.

“It was a wonderful weekend,” Jindal, who has been touted as among the favourites to be McCain’s running mate despite the governor’s repeated comments that he is happy with his current job, told WWLTV.

“John and Cindy were very gracious. Not only did we have a chance to talk to him one on one, as well as in a group, we had a chance to visit with the other senators there, the other business leaders,” Jindal told the Louisiana channel.

Journalists had camped outside McCain’s Sedona ranch to catch a glimpse of the high-profile guests invited over to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend amid speculation that it was actually an exercise to chose his running mate for the November presidential elections.

McCain’s campaign has denied it is such a gathering, saying it is simply a weekend among friends.

Jindal said he talked with people on Louisiana’s recovery after hurricane Katrina wrecked the state.

He said he did not know if there would be any further “social-type weekends” like this one, but did say he is planning on seeing McCain again real soon when the senator stops in Louisiana in two weeks working the campaign trail.

Earlier on Saturday, McCain and wife Cindy took Jindal and the other guests they for lunch at the nearby hotel.

The conservative Washington Times had on Saturday endorsed Jindal as the best man for the Republican ticket.

Analysts says Jindal can not only provide “diversity” to the ticket, but can also offset the age factor for 72-year-old McCain, who will be oldest first term President if elected, as he could be facing Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama, 46, who is an African American.

Jindal converted to Roman Catholicism when he was a teenager and has a conservative platform, opposing abortion and stem cell research and advocating teaching of “intelligent design” in schools as alternative theory of evolution.

“I think they have to look for a diverse candidate for vice-president, which brings up somebody like Bobby Jindal, or may be a woman — somebody that brings diversity to the ticket,” said ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, former chief strategist for US President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign.

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