As he continues to lose traction with Republicans, Vivek Ramaswamy flirts with Libertarians

Vivek Ramaswamy has reportedly been flirting with Libertarians now that Fox News is eviscerating him and many Republicans have come to dislike him based on his performances in the GOP primary debates.

On Friday, the Des Moines Register reported that Ramaswamy’s campaign has reached out to the Libertarian Party in Iowa to inquire about running for president on the party’s ticket.

The candidate denied that, but said he was instead urging Libertarian Party members to attend the GOP caucuses to vote for him.

RELATED STORY: Vivek Ramaswamy isn’t just Trump’s mini-me. He’s way worse

The Des Moines Register:

Campaign operatives for Ramaswamy attended a local party event this week, and Ramaswamy has had conversations with two Iowa Libertarian officials, including one instance where he expressed interest in joining the ticket, one of those officials confirmed.

Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur and author who in 2004 voted for a Libertarian presidential candidate, has openly criticized Republican leadership and policy as he seeks the party’s presidential nomination in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

But he has struggled to gain traction in Iowa and other early states, Ramaswamy’s potential defection to a third-party ticket could shake up an election that already contains several independent hopefuls.

Asked Thursday if he would run under the Libertarian ticket should he be defeated in the Republican race, Ramaswamy told the Register, “No.” But he held out the possibility the Libertarian Party might nominate him.

“I expect to get the GOP nomination,” Ramaswamy said. “I have strong libertarian instincts. I can’t stop them from nominating me, and I would be proud if they did.”

Ramaswamy laughed as he denied any intention of running on the Libertarian ticket in a Friday post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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Transcript:

“We’re bringing libertarians and independents and young people and college students into the Republican caucus which I believe we have a good chance of winning … So I’m not running as a Libertarian or whatever it is they are trying to push. I have a lot of overlapping policies that rhyme with a lot of what libertarians like. Great. We’re going to bring them into the Republican caucus.“

The Ohio businessman could definitely use a little help from Libertarian friends: The 538 average of polls for the Iowa Republican caucus shows Ramaswamy in a distant fourth place with just 4.8% of the vote. After peaking at 11.6% on Aug. 23, the date of the first GOP debate; he’s since lost nearly seven points.

The Libertarian Party of Iowa acknowledged ‘the recent approach by the Ramaswamy campaign,” calling it “a testament to the growing recognition that the spectrum of American political discourse must encompass diverse perspectives.”

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Ramaswamy has sucked up to Trump during the campaign, even promising to pardon the 2024 frontrunner. That suggests he might be angling for a top position in the new administration should Trump win in November. But as New York Times columnist David Brooks notes, Ramaswamy is reflective of the “narcissistic hucksterism” that has infected the GOP since Trump has taken control of the party. So Ramaswamy might be more interested in promoting his own brand than playing second fiddle to Trump. 

And what a brand it is.

In addition to asserting during Wednesday’s debate that Jan. 6 was “an inside job,” Ramaswamy also rattled off a litany of conspiracy theories, as if he was reading a QAnon post: “The government lied to us for 20 years about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in 9/11 … The great replacement theory is not some grand right-wing conspiracy theory, but a basic statement of the Democratic Party’s platform. … The 2020 election was indeed stolen by Big Tech.”

Friday, Ramaswamy was back on X with another bizarre conspiracy theory.

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He wrote:

The timing of the Hunter Biden tax indictment is one more sign that the deep state is planning to sideline Biden & pick a new puppet for 2024, all the while using this indictment as a perfect fig leaf to claim that the Trump prosecutions aren’t politically motivated. Kills two birds with one stone.

It seems unlikely that Ramaswamy, who got his B.A. from Harvard and then graduated from Yale Law School, actually believes any of this rubbish. But Wednesday’s conspiracy theory-drenched rant did earn Ramaswamy praise from notorious white supremacist and neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes, who hailed the Indian American as “the avatar of destruction.”

But over at Fox News, the network’s hosts and panelists are united in their “nuclear” opposition to Ramaswamy, The Daily Beast reports.

“Court jester,” one Fox News star described Ramaswamy on Thursday. “A jerk,” another Fox personality called him. “Embarrassing,” the denizens of Fox News’ flagship morning show declared about the White House hopeful.

Just a few months ago, the 38-year-old “anti-woke” biotech entrepreneur had seemingly taken over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ spot as the conservative cable giant’s favored Donald Trump alternative in the Republican presidential primary. At the time, the network … gushed over his ability to rap Eminem lyrics while touting the media-savvy contender’s rising poll numbers.

However, the debates happened and Ramaswamy’s self-professed “unhinged” strategy—which largely involved insulting the other candidates while cosplaying as 4chan right-wing edgelord—quickly wore out its welcome. Before long, Fox News pivoted its support to a Republican establishment candidate, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, an ex-Trump official.

Given his transactional relationship with the GOP—and his declining support among Republican voters— could Ramaswamy take his flirtation with the Libertarians even further?

Ramaswamy has put forward some policy proposals that Libertarians support: abolishing the Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service, curbing the power of the Federal Reserve, and supporting open carry gun laws. But there are others that are antithetical to Libertarians, including his staunchly anti-immigration stance and support for the anti-woke culture war against the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s an open question as to when Ramaswamy will end his campaign for the GOP nomination, and what he’ll do next. Will he drop out after the Iowa caucuses and endorse Trump, or chose some other path to boost his national profile? After all, his relationship with the Republican Party is tenuous at best.

Consider Ramaswamy’s contentious interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity in October. When Hannity noted some voters thought he was unqualified for the nomination because he didn’t vote Republican until 2020, Ramaswamy replied: “I voted Libertarian in my first election. I voted Republican in 2020. You’re right, I’m not a partisan hack. I come in from the outside. I’m an independent-minded patriot who speaks the truth.”

But Ramaswamy also admitted that he’s using the Republican Party to build his national profile through his presidential campaign, ABC News reported in October.

“I’m not a party man. Even now, I’m not a party man,” Ramaswamy said … during a fireside chat with Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Michael Doran in Washington, D.C., where he discussed international wars including in Israel and Ukraine.

“I’m using the Republican Party as a vehicle to advance what I see as a pro-American agenda that this country is hungry for,” he continued as he answered Doran’s first question, which kicked off a fiery conversation: “Why are you a Republican?”

And who can forget the bizarre link POLITICO uncovered between Ramaswamy and libertarianism this summer? As an undergraduate student at Harvard, Ramaswamy “had a side-hustle as a libertarian-minded rap artist who went by the stage name ‘Da Vek.’” Ramaswamy was especially inspired by Eminem, who had just released his hit song “Lose Yourself,” from the 2002 film 8 Mile.

Ramaswamy sung along with “Lose Yourself” for a perplexed crowd at the Iowa State Fair in August. It’s a painful watch.

Eminem was not amused. Hhis lawyer issued a cease-and-desist order, demanding that Ramaswamy stop using his music on the campaign trail. Ramaswamy agreed to comply.

On Saturday, the conservative Washington Examiner declared that it’s time for Ramaswamy to go.

His candidacy, which might once have seemed a welcome gust of fresh air, has dwindled into a third-rate imitation of former President Donald Trump’s greatest conspiratorial hits.

It is far past time for Ramaswamy to stop embarrassing everyone, including himself, and end his presidential campaign.

The first Republican debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, feels so much longer ago than just three months. Former Gov. Nikki Haley was the star, but Ramaswamy arguably also shone that night, earning the most search interest on Google and a boost in the polls. He could have built on that momentum, turning his energy into a substantive critique of Trump and other contenders for the nomination.

Instead, he has turned almost exclusively to schoolyard taunts and crazy uncle musings. He’s now just an annoying manchild, desperate for attention.

Arguably, the GOP primary only has room for one “crazy uncle” this year, even if he comes with a pile of indictments.

RELATED STORY: Another lackluster GOP debate fails to upend dominance of absent front-runner

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