Watch Nidhi Razdan: Is Vivek Ramaswamy pitching to be Donald Trump’s running mate? Video Credit: YouTube/Gulf News

As the campaign race for the US Presidential elections picks up pace, there’s a new man in town who’s creating all the buzz — 38 year old Republican hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy. Ramaswamy has hit the spotlight after the recent first presidential debate among Republican candidates where he got the second most air time of any candidate.

A Washington Post/FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll found that 26 per cent of respondents believed Ramaswamy won. Since the debate, he has shot up in the Republican polls — at number 3 at the moment behind Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis — and going up.

Yes he’s still far behind Donald Trump but his rise says a lot about the Republican campaign which appears more than willing to embrace far right ideas even if they border on dangerous and delusional. In fact, Ramaswamy’s team claims he raised over $450,000 just one night after the first debate.

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A Trump-Lite

A biotech entrepreneur and son of Indian immigrants, Vivek Ramaswamy is being described as a more extreme version of Donald Trump.

He is one of the former President’s biggest fans calling Trump “the best President of the 21st century”. What makes Ramaswamy stand out are his views on a variety of issues that “out Trump” Trump himself.

So Ramaswamy is an “anti woke” crusader who describes himself as a nationalist. He has called climate change a hoax, controversially alluded to some kind of government involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, talked about raising the voting age to 25, and has said there are only two genders.

He also wants physical fitness tests to be a criteria for college admissions including a 1-mile run, sit-ups, and pull ups. He would also be happy to cut a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Among other things, he has said “fossil fuels are a requirement for human prosperity. Reverse racism is racism. An open border is not a border. Parents determine the education of their children. The nuclear family is the greatest form of governance known to man”.

Vivek Ramaswamy, chairman and co-founder of Strive Asset Management and 2024 Republican presidential candidate, during the Republican primary presidential debate

Not backed by evidence

On climate change, Ramaswamy declared at the presidential debate that the “climate change agenda was a hoax”. “ The reality is more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change,” he declared. He was booed by the audience. None of his claims are backed by evidence.

Despite possessing exceptional communication skills and intelligence, Ramaswamy frequently reveals either his cynicism.

A New York Times report did a fact check on several of Ramaswamy’s inaccurate claims and gave a detailed breakdown of how climate change was affecting us - such as a report of the World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency which has said that extreme weather events, compounded by climate change, caused nearly 12,000 disasters and a death toll of 2 million between 1970 and 2021.

Ironically Ramaswamy’s claims came only weeks after devastating wildfires in Hawaii and floods in California, all caused by climate change. Will this extreme version of Trump work with voters?

Trump’s running mate?

Some experts say Ramaswamy won’t get very far by mimicking Trump. After all, why would people vote for a Trump copycat when they can vote for the real deal. Ramaswamy’s rise also reflects the big problem in the Republican camp.

Trump has been leading among Republican voters in all polls by miles, with the competition unsure of how to deal with him. The other candidates are acutely aware that Trump still commands a sizeable base among Republican voters.

So they aren’t going all out to criticise him (in fact many like Ramaswamy embrace him) but they also don’t seem to be able to convince voters why they should be on the ballot instead of Trump.

Vivek Ramaswamy may be seen as shallow and inexperienced by many including the other Republican candidates (former Vice President Mike Pence called him a rookie while Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he “sounds like ChatGPT”) but it’s clear they also see him as a threat and won’t make the mistake of underestimating him.

Ramaswamy’s youth and energy are making him the highlight of a lot of the conversation at the moment but whether that translates into being on ballot is still a very long shot.

There is one more theory doing the rounds — the Ramaswamy is actually pitching to be Donald Trump’s running mate. That seems more plausible than the top ticket at the moment. Watch this space.