ABC: Did Ramaswamy enter the 2024 race to torpedo DeSantis?

AP Photo/Meg Kinnard

Is the story of Vivek Ramaswamy’s presidential bid that of one wealthy entrepreneur scratching another’s back? Is it one of a bored podcaster who wasn’t getting fame quickly enough? Or could it be that the long knives are coming out for the participants in this week’s opening GOP debate?


Best guess, based on this ABC News report, is … yes, no, maybe so:

“I’m going to run for president,” Ramaswamy said on the call.

Multiple sources who were on the call tell ABC News that they were baffled by the news. They had figured that maybe Ramaswamy, then a little-known biotech millionaire, had been working on a new business venture, or was writing a book, or was even contemplating a run for Senate in his home state of Ohio — but launching a long-shot bid for the White House was the last thing they expected.

Ramaswamy pitched himself as a candidate who could make serious waves in the Republican primary at the meeting. When met with some skepticism, Ramaswamy argued that his candidacy could also dissuade Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis from entering the race, according to a source who was on the call. In the lead-up to his announcement, Ramaswamy would tell several other conservative activists that he believed that if he ran, it could stop DeSantis from running or impact his viability as a candidate if he did enter the race, sources said.

The Right Scoop sees this as confirmation that Ramaswamy is a “con artist” attempting to build a national brand through a novelty campaign. Well, maybe, but America has a long and glorious history of novelty candidates attempting to build a brand for later resale. In many cases, the idea is to highlight a specific issue set as a brand, while in others it’s more about personal fame. Ramaswamy falls into the latter category, in ABC’s telling:


Prior to that meeting where Ramaswamy pitched his 2024 run, the successful entrepreneur had been heading down a different path — one that was long in development but fell through prior to him deciding to launch a long-shot White House bid, ABC News has been told.

Heading into 2022, Ramaswamy had inked a deal and had been working with the popular right-wing media company The Daily Wire on a project that was ultimately scrapped, according to multiple sources familiar with the project.

The “frustrated podcaster” narrative falls apart, though, because Ramaswamy never did launch this project at The Daily Wire. Ramaswamy pulled out on his own initiative, ABC confirms with DW’s Jeremy Boreing, who says he remained enthusiastic about it until Ramaswamy asked to be released from the deal. In fact, as the story progresses, it seems clear that the deal “fell through” because Ramaswamy wanted to run for president, not the other way around.

The question of why Ramaswamy wanted to run remains, however, and ABC’s explanation is curious, to say the least. In a primary setting where Donald Trump clearly was the biggest target, why was it so important for Ramaswamy to see DeSantis pushed aside? It’s true that DeSantis was expected to lead the Not-Trump lane, and so Ramaswamy and others could have adopted the 2015 tactic of targeting the biggest challenger to Trump in hopes of going one-on-one with Trump at the end. That strategy failed spectacularly in the 2016 GOP primary, but even Never Back Down has floated it again for some reason in this cycle.


What it looks like is that Ramaswamy wanted to torpedo DeSantis specifically to boost Trump as well as for self-promotion. Maybe so, but if that’s the case, then the only rational reason for it would be to build his personal brand. A search on Open Secrets for Ramaswamy’s political donations doesn’t show a single dollar going to Trump. Instead, Ramaswamy’s donations have gone to Trump allies like Tom Cotton and Trump opponents like Chris Sununu, the Republican Parties of Connecticut and Ohio, and a single Democrat (Eric Lesser in Massachusetts) in 2014. Trump didn’t get any support from Ramaswamy in either of his two presidential bids, so he makes a pretty poor crypto-Trump sock puppet.

But even that doesn’t seem like a satisfactory explanation. Ramaswamy could get a little famous by attacking DeSantis, but he could get legendary by attacking Trump, and with a bipartisan audience, no less. Attacking DeSantis from the GOP field will get Ramaswamy some favorable mentions in the MSM in the next few months. Attacking Trump from inside the GOP tent will get him a regular analyst gig at CNN and might land Ramaswamy a prime-time show on MSNBC. Look at what it did for Michael Avenatti at both cable nets, after all.

The best explanation for Ramaswamy’s interest is the simplest: he’s rich, he has time on his hands, and wants to be noticed. ABC’s report suggests this, but so do Ramaswamy’s recent public statements on foreign policy especially, which make him look like an unprepared dilettante. A week ago, Ramaswamy told Hugh Hewitt that he would abandon Taiwan as soon as our semiconductor supply could be reshored, as though semiconductors were our only strategic interest in Taiwan.


His answer on Israel was even less impressive. As the Free Beacon points out, Ramaswamy has trouble articulating a consistent position on the US-Israel strategic partnership, but most recently also insisted we would cut aid to Israel at the same time we abandon Taiwan — in 2028:

The candidate’s stance on the military aid—$3 billion a year, which Israel is largely required to spend on U.S.-manufactured equipment—has changed several times over the past few months. This week, he told the Washington Free Beacon that he supports ending the military funding once the current package passed by Congress expires in 2028, arguing that the aid will be unnecessary after he successfully negotiates new peace treaties between Israel and its Arab neighbors during the first year of his presidency.

“If we’re successful, the true mark of success for the U.S., and for Israel, will be to get to a 2028 where Israel is so strongly standing on its own two feet, integrated into the economic and security infrastructure of the rest of the Middle East, that it will not require and be dependent on that same level of historical aid or commitment from the U.S.,” Ramaswamy told the Free Beacon on Saturday.

Ramaswamy describes his Middle East plan as “Abraham Accords 2.0,” an expansion of the historic Trump-era deals cementing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.

This ignores the threat from Iran, which will not end in 2028, and especially the threat from Iranian-financed proxies like Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, and to some extent Fatah as well. The “aid” to Israel isn’t charitable either; we partner with Israel on regional security, especially with US troops still fighting against ISIS remnants in Syria and Iraq. While we have other partners, Israel is the only pluralistic liberal democracy in the region. The question isn’t why we partner with Israel, but why we wouldn’t partner with Israel, especially with the growing threat from Iran.


Ramaswamy comes across as a bright, engaging, but impulsive newbie on politics and policy. American politics has always had such naïfs come into electoral politics, and they do bring vitality to the body politic — but that’s when they aim at lower level offices, not when they want to make the presidency an entry-level, learn-as-you-go position.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos