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La. Rep. Jindal's take on his state's 'dysfunction'

MSNBC's Matthews talks with Republican about Brown's accusations
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In his grilling on the Hill on Tuesday, former FEMA head Michael Brown, blamed state and local officials for many of the problems after Hurricane Katrina.

"I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences and work together," Brown said.

Tuesday evening, MSNBC's Chris Matthews welcomed Louisiana Rep. Bobby Jindal (R) to 'Hardball' and discussed politics in that state and Brown's accusations.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, and Governor Blanco, who you ran against a couple years ago, are they the bad guys? 

BOBBY JINDAL:  You know, I think the entire effort was dysfunctional. 

I heard him say the state was dysfunctional.  The reality is, anybody watching that could see the state and federal agencies, nobody distinguished themselves in this response.  The only heroes were the local responders, the military, the Coast Guard, wildlife and fisheries agents.  Those are the guys that said, forget the paperwork.  Forget the bureaucracy.  Let's get people off of roofs.  Let's get people out of the water. 

So, I mean, was the state response dysfunctional?  Sure.  Was the federal response dysfunctional?  Absolutely.   

MATTHEWS:  OK, big point-of-fact difference tonight.  The governor of your state, Blanco, who you ran against, put out a statement late this afternoon and said, 'I, the governor, did issue an order to evacuate that city on Saturday.'  The head of FEMA, Michael Brown, who was in the-testimony in the box today, said it was Sunday. 

Who is right?  You know the facts.  Was it Saturday or Sunday that the evacuation order was issued? 

JINDAL:  My recollection -- and I don't know the legalities of a mandatory vs. a voluntary evacuation. ... My recollection was, the governor came on TV on Saturday, came on TV with the mayor on Sunday. 

But, you know, there are a lot of questions.  It's not just about when they ordered the evacuation.  It's, why weren't there buses?  Why wasn't there food at the Superdome?  It's, why did it take so long for the state and federal bureaucracies to work together?  ... I'm hoping, with all these panels, somebody figures out what didn't work, not so they can point fingers, not so, is it Michael or is it Governor Blanco or it one of the two of them.  It's rather so that, next time, if there's another hurricane, if there's a manmade attack, we do a better job. 
... Four years after 9/11, it's disgraceful that we still didn't have radios that didn't talk to each other. ... It was still disgraceful that, in the immediate aftermath...

MATTHEWS:  You know how this can hurt, Congressman?  The American people out of there watching tonight, a lot of them, 50/50, say Republicans, Democrats, but most of the people who pay attention to serious public affairs, arguments like this one, know about their money and they are thinking about it; $200 billion, we're going to borrow from overseas, basically, to pay for this rebuilding down there.  They're going to give it to the same people that screwed up.  They're going to give it to a dysfunctional state.  Doesn't that scare you, that reputation?

JINDAL:  Absolutely. I have said, let's not put it in the same bureaucracies that didn't work.  Let's do at least two things.  One, yes, we need to rebuild peoples lives that have immediate needs. 

MATTHEWS:  Who do you trust most in your state personally?  Who is the politician you trust, Bobby Jindal? 

JINDAL:  Well, I don't trust politicians.  But I think that...

MATTHEWS:  No, no, who do you trust?  You have got to tell me now.  Who do you trust in your state?  Do you trust Nagin?  Do you trust the governor?  Do you trust the senators, Vitter?  Do you trust Landrieu, the other senator?  Do you trust-do you trust Michael Chertoff?  Do you trust President Bush? 

JINDAL:  Well, look, politically, I'm certainly closer to David Vitter than a lot of the other people you mentioned.

But, in terms of trusting, I don't want any of the politicians running this money.  I don't want the bureaucracy running this money.  I want more of this money spent on tax incentives to create jobs, put people back to work and... I think there should be a private-sector-led effort.  I have said Colin Powell, Jack Welch, with local, locals making the final decisions.

MATTHEWS:  Have you told Cheney this idea yet? ... Cheney has been putting the kibosh on this from day one.  He doesn't want any bigfoot in there, whether it's Colin Powell or it's Jack Welch or it's Rudy Giuliani.  He wants to be the boss in this administration, doesn't he? 
... Come on, be honest.  Do you really think Dick Cheney is going to let somebody else come in there and muscle in and become the star of this thing? 

JINDAL:  I have told the president this.  I have told the congressional leadership this.  I have said...

MATTHEWS:  Have you told Cheney?

JINDAL:  I haven't talked to...

MATTHEWS:  Have you told Cheney?

JINDAL:  I haven't talked to...

MATTHEWS:  Good luck.  Good luck. .... Because he he has officially put out the word he doesn't want it. 

JINDAL:  But I have told his boss.  I have told the president.  I haven't been told no.  I have told everybody that will listen.

MATTHEWS:  So, your opinion, Congressman Jindal -- and you are -- you're right on the site down there.  You are a representative from that area of New Orleans.  You believe, in the best interests of your people, who are now in this Diaspora across the Southwest, right-Southeast... You believe it's better for them to have a big boss down there, a bigfoot to come down and organize this thing? 

JINDAL:  I think the locals needs to be in charge, but somebody needs to be firmly in control.  I think, at least from the federal perspective, get somebody from the private sector.

MATTHEWS:  Who's your star?  Who do you want it to be? 

JINDAL:  I think Jack Welsh or Colin Powell would be great. 

Watch each night at 5 and 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC.