Vivek Ramaswamy has become central to the GOP primary. In a race that was supposed to be between former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump has blown past the rest of the field, leaving a second tier of marginally viable candidates that includes DeSantis, and surprisingly, Ramaswamy.
Ramaswamy is a 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur out of Yale Law. Notably, Ramaswamy is the first millennial GOP presidential candidate. He’s running a campaign that appeals to Trump’s populist base – and stirring up controversy in the process, with his sharp and frequent critiques of US intervention in Ukraine, woke culture, etc.
Ramaswamy’s surprising rise in the polls, in which he has pulled into third place, nearly even with DeSantis, has earned Ramaswamy the attention of the press – as this morning’s coverage indicates.
“In a heated interview, the Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy four times refused to answer the MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan when asked to explain his own words: that Donald Trump’s ‘abhorrent’ behaviour made him a “danger to democracy,’” The Guardian reported.
You know you’re suddenly relevant when your interview responses are news in and of themselves.
Ramaswamy on MSNBC
Hasan asked Ramaswamy some difficult questions. Here’s the MSNBC beginning of his interview with the GOP candidate: “You and I both grew up as kids of Indian immigrants who love to debate, super confident, perhaps overconfident in our views. But here’s the difference. I kind of know my limits…what have you done that even qualifies you to be president of the United States.”
Ramaswamy said that his business career and his experience as “an outsider who deeply understands the law and constitution in this country” qualified him to be the most consequential head of state on Earth. (I disagree.)
Hasan pressed Ramaswamy about his business career, asking about an Alzheimer’s drug that Ramaswamy offered, which failed clinical trials after Ramaswamy had sold shares. Hasan called the incident “a classic pump-and-dump scheme.” Ramaswamy insisted that he had done nothing wrong.
Then, the conversation turned to the GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump. Now, Trump-allegiance has been a litmus test in the Republican Party for a long time – and continues to be so during the 2024 election cycle. Ramaswamy has almost sycophantically sided with Trump against Trump-holdouts like Chris Christie and Mike Pence. Which is why Hasan brought up a January 12th, 2021 tweet from Ramaswamy.
“What Trump did last week was wrong. Downright abhorrent. Plain and simple,” Ramaswamy tweeted. Obviously, Ramaswamy has changed his tune in the years since.
Hasan asked Ramaswamy about his Trump flip-flop. “Is Donald Trump, as you say now, the best president of the 21st century…Or is Trump, as you’ve said in the past, in your books, on Twitter, a ‘sore loser’, who is a danger to democracy’, and who did ‘downright abhorrent’ and egregious things on January 6’? Which one is he, Vivek?”
Ramaswamy answered that Trump was the best president of the 21st century. Ramaswamy added that he “would have made the same judgments that [Trump] has made every step of the way.”
Hasan didn’t let it go, asking three more times what Trump did that was abhorrent and dangerous to democracy. “I want you to answer my question, Vivek. Three times I’ve asked it. What did Trump do that was downright abhorrent? It’s a simple question. It’s your words, it’s onscreen, what did he do that was downright abhorrent?”
Ramaswamy sidestepped standard political fare, and it’s not a great look for Ramaswamy. But Ramaswamy isn’t campaigning to be president. He’s campaigning for a spot in Trump’s prospective future administration – and defending Trump on MSNBC is probably the best way to earn that spot.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.