Washington: Indian-American Republican presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal seized the offensive to attack two of his rivals relegated to the undercard debate as "big government conservatives" and suggest that he alone had cut government spending.
Citing a long list economic statistics to compare his record with those of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Governor Jindal assailed the two during Tuesday's undercard debate in Milwaukee.
Christie though repeatedly refused to respond to the attacks, pivoting to criticism of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton even as Jindal compared budget decreases in Louisiana to budget increases in New Jersey.
Records matter, Jindal argued attacking Christie for expanding food stamps and accepting Medicaid expansion with funding from President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act that Republicans oppose.
"My point is this," he said. "If politicians say they're going to be conservative, say they're going to cut spending, but they don't do it, why should we send them to D.C.?"
"If we send another big government Republican to the White House, we will not do enough to fix what is wrong in this country," Jindal said.
"Let's not just beat Hillary, let's elect a conservative to the White House, not just any Republican," Jindal said, arguing that the Republican shouldn't be "a second liberal party."
Christie, who succeeded Jindal as chairman of the Republican Governors' Association in 2014, fired back arguing that he had won two elections in a state with a Democratic majority.
"If you go to New Jersey, they'll call me lots of different things. A liberal is not one of them," said Christie. "That's the person you want on the stage prosecuting the case against Hillary Clinton."
Earlier Jindal attacked Huckabee saying he had failed to cut spending while in office. When Huckabee objected and said that he in fact lowered spending, Jindal countered: "Your record as governor tells a different story."
During Huckabee's tenure, spending in Arkansas increased by 65 percent and taxes went up by 45 percent, he suggested.
Christie attacked both Jindal and Huckabee by arguing their energy should be spent going after Clinton.
"She is the real adversary tonight and we better stay focused as Republicans on her," Christie said, garnering a round of applause. "Hillary Clinton is coming for your wallet, everybody. Don't worry about Huckabee or Jindal, worry about her."
"I think [Jindal has] been a wonderful governor... and I respect him for what he's done, and I think all of us deserve that same level of respect," he said.
"The differences between me and Bobby Jindal? We can talk about those -- obviously Bobby wants to spend a lot of time tonight talking about that."
Christie defended his record, pointing out that he's been re-elected as an anti-abortion governor in a Democrat state that has more registered Democrats than Republicans.
Jindal argued that the debate was not about comparing Louisiana to New Jersey, or his record to Christie's. He then took one more dig at Christie, saying he should get "a ribbon for participation, and a juice box."