White House Uses Jindal As An Ally On Health Care

11/30/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The White House is getting a boost in its efforts to pass health care reform from a potential 2012 opponent.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs urged Republicans on Wednesday to follow the advice of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who urged party members to start working more constructively with the president in passing health care legislation.

"I think I saw one of the more popular governors, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, say today that it was time for Republicans to offer what they are for and not just talk about what they are against," said Gibbs. "So the president is happy to and will meet with Republicans. We talk to Republicans every day about health care. And we hope that members of the House Republican leadership will listen to the person that they put forward... to represent their agenda just a few months ago in taking up the mantle of actually being for something."

Jindal, who gave the rebuttal speech to Barack Obama's first State of the Union address roughly eight months ago, told Politico on Wednesday that the time had come for members of his party "to pivot and to say, not only here's what we're against, and not only here's how we're going to contrast ourselves, but here's what we're for."

Such talk would seem banal under normal political climates. But Jindal's up-and-coming status within the Republican Party, and his inherent admission that Republicans have not put forward a comprehensive alternative health care proposal, provided ample ammunition for the White House to frame the GOP as obstructionist.

This is not the first time the president and his team have used a potential future rival to help pass legislation. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's support for the stimulus was a huge boost for the White House in its efforts to claim bipartisan support.

But that move cost Crist dearly among his conservative base, which believed the governor abandoned their limited government principles. Whether Jindal suffers a similar fate for his remarks on health care remains to be seen.

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