Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is starting to sharpen his elbows as the 2024 race gets underway.
With over two weeks of campaigning under his belt, Ramaswamy told Fox News Digital in an interview the most surprising thing he’s come across so far as a White House hopeful is “how receptive” voters are to his message, particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire, also touting his “five” standing ovations from the very pro-Trump crowd at CPAC earlier this month.
“I think people are hungry and even curious and quietly, deeply interested in something different. But it can’t just be something different for the sake of looking different or say it’s generational change… I know they’re not looking for different for the sake of different. I think what they’re looking for is different for the sake of actually even better advancing the America First agenda,” Ramswamy said. “And I think some of the things I’m saying – getting rid of affirmative action in America, abandoning climate religion in America, using the military to actually decimate the cartels south of the border and solve the fentanyl crisis – the majority of Republicans agree vehemently with these ideas. The majority of Americans, I believe, agree with these ideas. And yet even many Republican politicians are somehow afraid to say those things out loud.”
“I mean, even Donald Trump taking on affirmative action, taking on climate, religion, these are things that I think a lot of folks dance carefully and tread carefully around those political issues,” Ramaswamy said.
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The multi-millionaire entrepreneur criticized the legacy media’s lack of coverage of his campaign, namely The New York Times and The Washington Post, which have barely given him any ink since he launched his presidential bid, saying they don’t tolerate political outsiders who object to their “sacred cows” like climate change.
But Ramaswamy appeared to make a jab at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an increasingly likely 2024 rival who has been outspoken about icing out hostile media on the campaign trail.
“[Media outlets] like to say that, ‘hey, conservatives don’t like to engage in open dialogue and debate.’ And unfortunately, I feel a little sad that some of our Republicans, even ones who I like on a personal level, fall into that trap where they’ll say, ‘Hey, I’m not going to talk to a certain network that’s mean to me.’ That’s exactly what MSNBC or the left-wing media want you to say, so don’t fall into that trap,” Ramaswamy said. “Instead, I’ve actually said the opposite. I’ve been very public about the fact that I will talk to anybody, whether or not they agree with me, because you know what? If you don’t have a thick enough skin for the left-wing media in this country, you probably shouldn’t be the person representing America in front of Xi Jinping anyway.”
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Team DeSantis has been vocal in declining interviews with legacy media outlets and more recently was public with its spat toward NBC News after MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell falsely claimed he did not want slavery to be taught in schools during an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris. She later walked the remarks back. DeSantis’ office, however, vowed to keep giving NBC the cold shoulder until Mitchell offered a fuller apology.
Ramaswamy later continued, “They want the kinds of candidates in the Republican field who say they won’t talk to left-wing media, so left-wing media can actually complain about them to their own viewership. Republicans, my message to you is don’t fall into that trap. Have a backbone! Have some spine! Don’t say that you’re not going to talk to the other side. Prove to them that we actually embrace free speech in open debate by being willing to do it.”
When asked if those comments were directly referencing DeSantis, Ramaswamy’s campaign replied, “Yes.”
DeSantis’ campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
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Ramaswamy was asked whether his entry in the GOP primary is a signal that he did not believe that former President Trump could win in a potential rematch against President Biden, which he refrained from answering directly.
Instead, he suggested that having a Trump-Biden rematch would lead to a “national divorce” while his candidacy can lead to “national revival,” telling Fox News Digital if he thought a different candidate can unify the nation, “I wouldn’t be in this race.”
His first major obstacle, however, is landing a spot on the first primary debate stage.
Ramaswamy has publicly called for RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to lay out the prerequisites by the end of March.
He said that as long as the RNC doesn’t play games, he’s confident he’ll be on the debate stage.
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“I think the Republican Party machinery has a long way to go in fully returning the trust of its base. And I think transparency and clarity and minus any appearance of game playing, I think that’s the way to go. And so they should set those criteria,” Ramaswamy said.
But when asked specifically if he’d be willing to abide by the “loyalty pledge” to support the eventual nominee as McDaniel previously floated, Ramaswamy wasn’t eager to commit but would still play ball if his rivals did as well.
“Because that debate stage is important, if that’s what it takes to get everybody together, I’ve said that I would be willing to do it on the expectation that the other candidates would do the same,” he said.