On Wednesday night, Fox News hosted the first debate of the 2024 Republican primaries for President. The invited candidates included Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, Tim Scott, Asa Hutchinson, and Doug Burgum. Fox News hosts Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier moderated the one-hour and 40-minute debate.
While Trump has been leading in the polls by a massive margin, many believe that DeSantis and Ramaswamy are strong enough to be serious contenders for the nomination. The polls show DeSantis in second place, but the energetic Vivek has been surging in the polls, threatening to take the #2 spot from the Florida governor. Going into the debate, it was not a secret that Vivek was the most articulate, quick, and enthusiastic communicator in the group. The question was whether he could continue to shine while on the main stage with the biggest punchers. In his pro debut, the 38-year-old entrepreneur pitched a nearly perfect game and outclassed his opponents by a large margin.
Why was Vivek the clear winner?
The most libertarian?
Contrary to past Republican primaries, the candidates hardly seemed interested in courting small-government conservatives and libertarians. Sure, each of the debaters mentioned that they might consider addressing the reckless government spending and maybe even lowering taxes and regulations, but their milquetoast promises largely fell flat. Vivek was the only one who convincingly told voters that he would eliminate numerous federal government departments, including Education, Commerce, the NRC, ATF, the IRS, and the FBI. On numerous other questions, Vivek clearly distinguished himself as the most libertarian of the bunch. Haley and others criticized him for opposing massive endless foreign wars, which gave him the gift of appearing to be the most pro-peace candidate on the stage (though he still seems to support military force against the Mexican cartels). It was surprising how little opposition there was to the DC Empire’s perpetual wars and foreign involvement on the stage.
Quick wit & articulation
While not necessarily the fault of the others, it was evident that Vivek was by far the quickest and most eloquent speaker on the stage. Articulation does not make perfect presidents, but it will surely convince donors that he’s a strong candidate.
None of the others showed much courage last night, including Desantis. As the governor of an extremely popular state, he has shown courage and the will to fight, but he brought little of that bravery to Milwaukee. Vivek was the only one to call global warming a ‘hoax’, and he said it loudly and proudly and then repeated it for emphasis. The others addressed that question by timidly sitting on the fence, making generic comments about supporting good environments. This was a $10,000 bill sitting on the ground for the taking, and Vivek was the only one who cared to pick it up. When Baier asked if any of the eight candidates would oppose increasing taxpayer funding for Ukraine, Vivek was the only one to raise his hand. DeSantis answered the question first and loudly asserted that it would depend on European contributions to Ukraine.
Everyone on the stage had some political experience. They governed as Republicans with some conservative and some authoritarian policies. They attacked Vivek for his age and lack of political experience. He was fairly effective in his responses, arguing that he was the only one on the stage who was not a “bought and paid for” career politician. His only relevant experience entails starting a pharmaceutical company Roivant Sciences in 2014, which is now worth over $6 billion. In 2020, Ramaswamy co-founded Chapter Medicare, a Medicare navigation platform. He served on the Ohio COVID-19 Response Team. He was chairman of OnCore Biopharma, a position he maintained at Tekmira Pharmaceuticals when the two companies merged in March 2015. He also was chair of the board of Arbutus Biopharma, a Canadian firm. In 2022, he created Strive Asset Management, a firm that aims to compete with the Goliaths like Blackrock and Vanguard by managing similar holdings but not supporting woke ESG progressivism and authoritarianism. The startup investment firm has $750 million under management. A number of Strive’s funds are listed on the stock exchange and are available to any investor. His educational journey is as impressive as it gets, as well. He graduated from Cincinnati’s St. Xavier High School as the valedictorian. In 2007, Ramaswamy graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in biology. He was known as a libertarian and debater and as the president of the Harvard Political Union. His business ventures earned him a net worth of around $15 million by the time he graduated from Yale Law School in 2013.
Ramaswamy said that he voted for the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 2004 but did not vote in the presidential elections in 2008, 2012, or 2016. He described himself as “apolitical” during this period. He supported Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
He has promised to pardon Donald Trump, Julian Assange, Ross Ulbricht, and Edward Snowden. He is pro-life but believes the federal government has no authority to ban abortion. Ramaswamy has described himself as “not a war on drugs person”; he favors federal legalization of marijuana and expressed openness to some form of legal access to psychedelics. He opposes CBDCs and supports crypto. He opposes government-employee unions and supports the right to work. He is the author of the 2021 book ‘Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam’ and two other books. He opposes subsidies for electric vehicles. He opposes foreign intervention and said that every Taiwanese resident should have a gun but American soldiers should not be sent to Taiwan to fight China. He supports drastically cutting or ending taxpayer-funded foreign welfare, including to Israel. He opposes affirmative action, calling it the “single biggest form of institutionalized racism in America today” and vowing to rescind Executive Order 11246. He has argued that American-style capitalism provides an antidote to India’s caste system. He asserts that “critical race theory” has indoctrinated public schoolchildren. He supports the use of fossil fuels and embracing nuclear energy. He said in the debate that “the only war I will declare is on the federal administrative state (federal agencies) that is the source of those toxic regulations acting like a wet blanket on the economy.” Pence then told Vivek he would ‘explain it to him slowly’, a diss that didn’t resonate well due to Vivek speaking around twice as fast as Pence.
He met his wife Apoorva when she was at Yale Medical School. They have two children together and live in Ohio. His father was an engineer and attorney and his mother was a doctor. They immigrated here from India.
Almost as remarkable as Vivek’s excellent performance was the lackluster performances by the others. They each had one or two good moments, but they had more failures. Vivek was the only one who responded well and boldly to nearly every question. Each candidate deflected a large number of questions, other than Vivek.
But there are some major caveats. It is very difficult to know if he believes or intends to fulfill all of his promises. He is not a pure libertarian; his support for militarizing the southern border and attacking cartels in Mexico could alarm many anti-war voters. Vivek’s refusal to attack or even address Trump with anything other than adoration is very concerning, as well. Also, it’s hard to know if a 38-year-old Indian conservatarian man can win a presidential election in 2024.
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