Vivek Ramaswamy suspends campaign after coming fourth in Iowa

Biotech entrepreneur and anti-woke author endorses Donald Trump after former president’s overwhelming win in first GOP primary contest

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 16 January 2024 10:03 GMT
Vivek Ramaswamy drops out of Republican primary race

Vivek Ramaswamy is ending his presidential campaign after finishing fourth in the Iowa Caucuses.

The 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur and anti-woke author endorsed Donald Trump after the former president’s overwhelming victory in the first contest in the Republican presidential primary.

“We did not achieve the surprise that we wanted to deliver tonight ... as of this moment we are going to suspend this presidential campaign,” he told his supporters in the Hawkeye State on Monday night.

“There’s no path for me to be the next president absent things that we don’t want to see happen in this country,” he added.

“As I’ve said since the beginning, there are two America First candidates in this race and I called Donald Trump to tell him that,” Mr Ramaswamy said. “I congratulated him on his victory and now going forward he will have my full endorsement for the presidency, and I think we’re gonna do the right thing for this country.”

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Mr Ramaswamy came into the GOP primary having done a few appearances on Fox News bashing wokeness. He made a name for himself as someone willing to say anything and everything to get attention.

He aggressively pushed a litany of baseless rightwing conspiracy theories, such as the climate crisis being a hoax, the white supremacist great replacement theory of political elites bringing in immigrants to replace the white population being Democratic party policy, and claiming that the January 6 insurrection was an “inside job”.

He garnered a lot of attention for his clashes with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, whom he bashed for allegedly being corrupt and only campaigning for the benefit of her donors, as well as for supposedly being light on foreign policy knowledge. Mr Ramaswamy for his part, pitched handing over part of Ukraine to Russia to come to a peace agreement.

On the stage at CPAC in March of last year, Mr Ramaswamy called the administrative state “unconstitutional” and argued for the shutting down of the Department of Education. For good measure, he said that “the FBI has gotten so cancerous that we need to shut it down”.

He was extreme, energetic and attention-grabbing. But at that point, only the most dedicated of conservatives had seen him in action. It now appears that the sustained attention he has received may not have done him any favours.

At his peak in late August in FiveThirtyEight’s national GOP primary polling average, Mr Ramaswamy clocked in at 11.6 per cent. At that time, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was at 3.3 per cent. Several debates and many campaign events later, the roles have been reversed. Ms Haley is almost at 12 per cent, while Mr Ramaswmay was at just over 4 per cent as of the last day of his campaign – 15 January.

Making his pitch to voters earlier on Monday night, Mr Ramaswamy said that he wanted to “use the military” at the northern border.

Before the caucuses began, Mr Ramaswamy urged his supporters to “stick it to the media and shock the world”.

“We’re surging on the ground. Don’t fall for the desperate late smears. Our best days are ahead,” he added on X ahead of the start of voting.

Former GOP speaker of the House and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich wrote on X: “Vivek Ramaswamy made a very mature and statesmanlike announcement tonight in endorsing President Trump. Ramaswamy is a brilliant entrepreneur with a great future.”

David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati in Mr Ramaswamy’s home state of Ohio, told The Independent last month that “Ramaswamy is somebody who the more you see of him, the less you like him. He’s somebody who really shines in small doses but who really couldn’t sustain that attention because what he’s best at is simply being outlandish and self-important – and you say, ‘Well, that’s exactly what Trump is’ – but he’s outlandish, self-important, and entertaining, which is a very different combination”.

Former Republican consultant Stuart Stevens, a top adviser on the 2012 Mitt Romney campaign and now at the Lincoln Project, told The Independent in December that Mr Ramaswamy is a “ridiculous human being who has terrible opinions – I mean it’s a joke”.

“I think that there is a phenomenon of a Peter Thiel, Elon Musk-element of American politics of people who know nothing about politics, know nothing about foreign policy, that think because they made money, they should run the world,” Mr Stevens added at the time.

The strategist said he thinks Mr Ramaswamy is “very much that sort of tech bro”.

“What’s the Ramaswamy problem? I think it’s twofold,” Dr Niven added last month. “One is that there’s no point at which he says to himself, ‘I could say something outlandish right now, but people wouldn’t like it’. He has absolutely no filter whatsoever. So by virtue of continuously talking, he’s continuously bothering somebody.”

“He’s an intensely unlikable human being – I mean, you wouldn’t sit next to this guy on a plane,” Mr Stevens added.

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