Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), a possible second-tier candidate for president in 2016, made a strong pitch to socially conservative activists in Iowa Saturday by stressing religious freedom.
Jindal, a Hindu turned Catholic, assailed President Obama for trampling on religious liberties by insisting that employers cover contraception with their health insurance policies.
“What President Obama doesn’t seem to understand … [is] the United States of America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America. It is the reason we live in this country,” he added.
He called the need to stand up for First Amendment religious liberty rights “one of the most important fights we face as a country.”
He decried the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act as“one of the most dangerous overreaches of federal government power.”
Social conservatives have historically played an important role in the Iowa Republican presidential caucus, the first contest of the GOP primary every four years.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), an outspoken social conservative and opponent of gay marriage and abortion rights, won the Iowa caucuses in 2012.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), a favorite among conservative Christian voters, won Iowa in the 2008 White House primary.
Jindal reminded the audience of activists that Hobby Lobby Stores, which is owned by evangelical Christians and has refused to cover the birth-control costs of employees, faces federal fines of up to $1.3 million a day.
Jindal is considered one of the rising stars of the Republican Party. His fast-climbing career lost altitude, however, after he delivered a widely mocked response to Obama’s 2009 State of the Union address.