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Pence gets laughs for calling out Vivek Ramaswamy’s voting record at Republican debate

Tech entrepreneur was the target of multiple verbal attacks from his political opponents on the debate stage

Ariana Baio
Thursday 28 September 2023 18:07 BST
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Mike Pence calls out Vivek Ramaswamy’s voting record

Stand-up comedy show or the second 2024 Republican presidential debate? Who’s to say.

Candidates were out for blood on Wednesday night, taking any opportunity to call each out other for minor and major infractions in their records. And at the centre of the jokes was tech entrepreneur and candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

Even former vice president Mike Pence couldn’t help but mock Mr Ramaswamy’s voting record, or lack thereof, when speaking about his business dealings in China.

“I’m glad Vivek pulled out of his business deal in 2018 in China that must have been about the time he decided to start voting in presidential elections,” Mr Pence said to laughter.

Mr Pence’s jab was a reference to Mr Ramaswamy admitting to The Wall Street Journal over the summer that before the 2020 presidential election he hadn’t voted in a general election since 2004.

Mr Ramaswamy, 38, has been registered to vote since 2003 and said he voted Libertarian in the 2004 presidential election.

But he did not vote in the 2008, 2012 or 2016 elections.

He voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election despite being listed as an unaffiliated voter in Ohio.

Mr Ramaswamy told WSJ that he doesn’t “pay attention to partisan affiliations” but he does consider himself a Republican.

Though he’s vying for the White House in 2024, Mr Ramaswamy is a newcomer to the political world.

Unlike his opponents on the stage, Mr Ramaswamy was uninvolved in politics, having had a career in pharmaceuticals and hedge funds. His lack of political experience combined with his subversive ideas for the US make him the perfect target for his opponents.

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley took a swing at Mr Ramaswamy for using TikTok.

“Honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber,” she said.

South Carolina senator Tim Scott called out Mr Ramaswamy for making contradicting statements between the first debate and the second.

“We think about the fact that Vivek said we are all good people, and I appreciate that, because at the last debate he said we were all bought and paid for,” Mr Scott said.

During the first debate, candidates lashed out at Mr Ramaswamy for his lack of experience in creating or enforcing legislation. Mr Pence and Ms Haley both criticised his opinion of handling foreign relationships, especially pertaining to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The third GOP debate is set to take place in Miami, Florida on 8 November.

It is unclear if Mr Ramaswamy will make an appearance on the stage as he has to meet the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) requirements, though he is polling ahead of most of his opponents aside from Mr Trump.

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