Vivek Ramaswamy: the unexpected fresh face amongst conservatives

Vivek Ramaswamy at the first Primary Republican Debate. Photo courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images.

By Briana Leibowicz Turchiaro

Boston University News Service

Vivek Ramaswamy has recently ended his presidential campaign to be the Republican candidate on this year’s ballot, but he was sure to leave his mark on the race before exiting.

Ramaswamy was one of the new faces in the running and he stood out for his catchphrases and lack of experience in executive positions. Unlike the other republican candidates, Ramaswamy had not worked in any governmental positions prior to launching his presidential campaign.

Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old father of two from Cincinnati, Ohio and former biotech entrepreneur, was known around in the political landscape for his strong political opinions: including ending birthright citizenship, raising the voting age from 18 to 25, and opposing affirmative action, among others.

“We are in the middle of a war in this country,” Ramaswamy said. He was referencing a country divided between “those of us who love the United States of America and a fringe minority who hates this country and what we stand for.”

Throughout his campaign and the political debates that came along with the race, Ramaswamy’s lack of experience had become a weapon for other candidates to use against him.

“Now is not the time for on-the-job training,” Mike Pence, the former vice president under President Donald Trump, said to Ramaswamy during the first Primary Republican Debate. 

Despite the other candidates using his lack of experience as a way to knock his credibility, Ramaswamy would feed into the idea of being different, and throughout his campaign, he would purposefully set himself apart from other politicians. 

“Every other politician dances to the tune of their biggest donor,” Ramaswamy said in an interview for ABC News in November 2023. “In my case, that biggest donor is me. I don’t want to be somebody else’s circus monkey”

The former candidate also separated himself from his competition when the topic reached Donald Trump. During the Republican debates, most candidates shared their disdain for Trump for choosing to not participate in the debates. Differently, Ramaswamy constantly shared support for Trump and even referred to him as “the best president in the 21st Century,” in the first primary Republican debate. 

His ideas of policies were also largely controversial. Ramaswamy became more popular with his controversial opposition to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. He claimed that companies should focus on excelling at their production and prioritize reflecting investors’ views rather than broader societal interests. 

ESG investing, a term coined in a 2004 report by the United Nations, is a proposition where companies would have to share reports on their environmental, social, and governance-related impacts. These reports would then allow investors to tailor investments based on companies that align with personal values. 

Ramaswamy argues that ESG investing is moving companies away from excelling at their respective productions as companies can sacrifice reaching optimal levels of production to be more successful in ESG standards.

Another infamously discussed policy suggestion was the former candidate’s proposition of raising the voting age from 18 to 25. If 18-year-olds did want to vote they would have to either complete six months in the military or complete the same civics test that every immigrant has to pass to become a voting citizen.

Ramaswamy has also spoken about restricting birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants in the United States and defends this idea with the 14th Amendment. “Now, the left will howl about the Constitution and the 14th Amendment,” Ramaswamy responded when asked about his ideas on birthright citizenship during the second primary debate, “the difference between me and them is I’ve actually read the 14th amendment.”

Ramaswamy defends his ideas of restricting birthright citizenship by claiming that the 14th Amendment draws a distinction between children born from legal immigrants and those born from illegal immigrants. 

Early in January, Ramaswamy was getting around 4% of votes in New Hampshire polls and has now shown strong support for Donald Trump since he resigned from his campaign. Ramaswamy has now transitioned to becoming a very vocal Trump campaign surrogate. 

“I’ve been a friend of his even though we were competing against each other,” Trump said. “But I was a friend of his and we got along and … I kept saying, ‘Why is he running? He keeps calling me a great president.’ But he’s a fantastic guy, a very smart guy. He’s got some tremendous ideas.”

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