The entrepreneur has been a firebrand in the first four Republican debates, garnering strong reactions to his feisty and contentious debate style. Here are five times during those debates when Ramaswamy made inflammatory comments or claims.
Ramaswamy uses Obama line (1st debate)
During the first debate, Ramaswamy opened by borrowing a line from former President Barack Obama, describing himself as a “skinny guy with a funny last name” and asking what he was doing on the GOP debate stage.
“So, first, let me just address the question that is on everybody’s mind at home tonight. Who the heck is this skinny guy with a funny last name, and what the heck is he doing in the middle of this debate stage? I’ll tell you, I’m not a politician, Bret. You’re right about that. I’m an entrepreneur,” he said.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie later blasted Ramaswamy for lifting a line from Obama, a deeply unpopular figure among Republicans, and accused Ramaswamy of being like an artificial intelligence bot.
“I’ve had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT. The last person in one of these debates who stood in the middle of the stage and said, ‘What’s a skinny guy with an odd last name doing up here,’ was Barack Obama,” Christie said on the debate stage.
“I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for” (1st debate)
Ramaswamy also made fireworks on the debate stage in August by claiming he was the only candidate who “isn’t bought and paid for.”
“Let us be honest as Republicans. I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for, so I can say this: The climate change agenda is a hoax,” Ramaswamy said.
The claim led to several candidates being asked if they were “bought and paid for.” All candidates answered that they were not, with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) initially saying “absolutely” but quickly clarifying he meant “absolutely not.”
Ramaswamy blasts Nikki Haley for her daughter’s use of TikTok (3rd debate)
One of the feistiest moments from any of the GOP debates came in November when Ramaswamy attacked former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for her daughter using TikTok. Ramaswamy flipped the criticism he had received for using the platform by going after her daughter.
“She made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time,” Ramaswamy said.
“Leave my daughter out of your voice,” Haley said. “You’re just scum.”
“NIKKI=CORRUPT” sign (4th debate)
During the fourth debate on Wednesday, Ramaswamy wrote on his notepad “NIKKI=CORRUPT” and later held up the sign during the debate.
“Nikki is corrupt. This is a woman who will send your kids to die so she can buy a bigger house.”
—Vivek Ramaswamy, holding up a handmade sign, goes on an extended attack against Nikki Haley for “corruption” and using “identity politics.” pic.twitter.com/y69tKnXlBY
— The Recount (@therecount) December 7, 2023
“Nikki is corrupt. This is a woman who will send your kids to die so she can buy a bigger house,” Ramaswamy said while holding up the sign.
His use of the prop elicited boos from the audience.
Renewed claims government ‘lied’ about 9/11, pushing ‘Great Replacement Theory’ (4th debate)
Ramaswamy renewed his claims that the Capitol riot might have been an “inside job” and that the federal government “lied” about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He also promoted the highly controversial “Great Replacement Theory” during the fourth debate.
“Why am I the only person on the stage at least who can say that Jan. 6 now does look like it was an inside job? That the government lied to us for 20 years about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in 9/11?” Ramaswamy said. “That the Great Replacement Theory is not some grand right-wing conspiracy theory but a basic statement of the Democratic Party’s platform.”
The “Great Replacement Theory” is a claim commonly made by white nationalists that white people are being “replaced” by those in power with immigrants who are not white.
The entrepreneur’s controversial and combative style has not benefited him in the polls, as he has seen a steady tumble in the RealClearPolitics polling average of the national GOP primary.