While pundits bill Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy as a “long-shot” candidate for president, the Republican political outsider isn’t campaigning as a long shot.
As his poll numbers continue to rise a little more than two months into his campaign, Ramaswamy said he believes he has a clear path to victory — America First 2.0.
“Similar to the way Donald Trump did it in 2015 when (then-Florida Governor]Jeb Bush was in that position that [Trump] is in now,” the biotech entrepreneur told The Star News Network Thursday in an interview on The Jay Weber Show, on NewsTalk 1130 WISN. “And I’m looking to take Trump’s America First agenda to the next level.”
He said his GOP nomination competitors are trying to avoid the “Trump base, the MAGA base, and piece together a path to 30 or 40 percent.”
“I do it differently. The Trump base, the MAGA base, the America First, I was and am part of it. That is my base, too,” the anti-woke crusader said. “One of the things we’re saying is, who actually is going to take this to the next level. America First does not belong to Donald Trump, it does not belong to me. It belongs to the people who are listening to this right now. It belongs to the people of this country.
Ramaswamy has seen his poll numbers rise from barely breathing to a top-five position in most national polls. As of the latest RealClearPolitics polling averages, he’s polling at 2.3 percent, tied with U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), who recently launched an exploratory committee on a presidential run. Former President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley lead the pack — the latter two not far ahead of Ramaswamy. Trump and Haley have declared their campaigns, while Pence and DeSantis are expected to join the race as soon as the middle of next month for DeSantis, according to reports.
But everybody is playing catch-up to Trump, who, at a 52.7 percent polling average, is outpacing his nearest competitor, DeSantis, by nearly 30 percentage points.
Ramaswamy noted his polling numbers aren’t too far off from Trump’s the day the business mogul announced his 2016 run for president. Trump entered the race near the bottom of the pack, at 3.6 percent, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls at the time.
Ramaswamy campaign CEO Ben Yoho released a memo this week titled State of the 2024 GOP Presidential Primary. It asserts Ramaswamy’s path to victory is “straightforward and simple.”
Yoho said he believes only an outsider and non-politician will “inherit the America First mantle.”
“GOP voters simply do not trust career politicians,” the campaign chief wrote. “Every other candidate in this race, other than Vivek or Trump, has spent their lifetime as a professional politician. In contrast to Trump, Vivek will go even further based on first principles and moral conviction, in the tradition of President Reagan, rather than through vengeance, grievance, and victimhood.”
Ramaswamy also has shown he’s willing to self-fund — to the tune of more than $10 million thus far — even as he’s raised more than $1 million in small contributions from more than 20,000 donors. A third of that money has come from first-time GOP donors, according to the campaign.
Yoho said Ramaswamy’s “unconventional campaign tactics – including a daily podcast and vast digital presence – appear to be driving his early surge, exceeding expectations.”
The campaign executive sums up the GOP field’s top contestants, acknowledging Trump is the “undisputed frontrunner,” a fact that will not change over the summer. But the path to the nomination, Yoho says, doesn’t run through Trump, but alongside.
Yoho doesn’t hold back his fire on DeSantis. He said the Florida governor has “squandered one of the greatest opportunities in modern presidential history, and his campaign is guilty of gross malpractice.”
“His path to the nomination runs through Trump, and his fumbling, mistake-riddled campaign has demonstrated he is incapable of running the kind of operation necessary to win. He is built to fail,” Yoho asserted.
At 37, Ramaswamy is the youngest candidate in the field by far. He’s the first millennial to run for president as a Republican. In a race dominated by two old white men (President Joe Biden, 80, Trump, 76), voters have expressed concerns that Biden and Trump may be too hold to run.
Ramaswamy says he’s not one to paint with a broad brush.
“The question is what vitality do you bring to the table?” he said. “And Joe Biden is a hollowed out husk of a leader. That’s the problem.”
Change is the one constant in politics. And much can change in a month, a week, a day, in the presidential nomination sweepstakes. Ramaswamy is counting on that change to fuel his road to victory.
“We have to be willing to unshackle ourselves and actually speak to the next generation and bring them along with leadership,” he said. “We’re too used to our movement running from something. I’m running to something — family, faith, pride in our country.”
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Vivek Ramaswamy” by Vivek Ramaswamy.