‘Wounded’ Trump’s movement needs a new leader

Ramaswamy, who has pledged to sit out of any primary race in states that are trying to have Trump removed from the ballot, including Maine and Colorado, believes he has “tried my best and gone to the fullest extent I can” to support Trump in his ballot access fight.

“I have deep concerns as an American that this system is going to take him out of contention,” he said, adding, “If we open our eyes to reality, I think that there is an unstoppable force attempting to move what they view as an unmovable object.”

Ramaswamy has also criticized Trump on some policies in recent days, including his focus on a southern border wall, and he said he’d divest his holdings as president, unlike Trump. But largely, he has painted himself as a supporter of the former president and his movement, which has made it difficult to break through in a GOP contest that also includes Trump.

In the interview, Ramaswamy also defended his repeated sharing of fringe theories about the Jan. 6 riots and other events, as well as his recent endorsement by former Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, his views on what he called the left’s redefinition of the term “white supremacy,” and his pledge to pardon Trump if he’s elected president.

In December’s NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, Ramaswamy had 5% support from likely Republican caucusgoers, well behind Trump’s field-leading 51%. More recent polling data also shows Ramaswamy still hovering in the single digits. 

“In many senses, I support Donald Trump and his legacy as U.S. president,” Ramaswamy said when asked how he can attract voters who like Trump. “I respect what his contributions are to this country. But when making the choice of who’s going to lead our America First movement to the next level — that’s a separate choice.

“I do think we’re in the middle of a kind of cold cultural war in this country, between those of us who love the United States of America, and a fringe minority who hates this country and what we stand for,” Ramaswamy continued. “And when it comes to selecting a commander in chief, a general, to lead us to victory in that war, I think I’m best positioned to do it — with fresh legs, as a leader who is not yet wounded in that war.”

Ramaswamy also said that Trump had allowed himself to get “duped” in Washington, leading to some policy proposals not getting implemented, like the mass firing of federal employees.

“I think it takes two things to actually get this right,” he said. “One is an outsider who can break the system when necessary. I bring that, Trump brings that, too. But it also takes an outsider who knows and deeply understands the law and the Constitution of this country. I think in many ways, this managerial class in the swamp, they duped Donald Trump.”

“They duped Trump in a way that they won’t be duping me,” Ramaswamy added later.

Ramaswamy defends airing of fringe theories, Steve King endorsement

In addition to his proposals on the economy, foreign relations and other issues, Ramaswamy has ramped up his focus over the past month on unfounded claims, including that the Jan. 6 riot was an inside job, that the kidnapping plot against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was fully a product of government entrapment, and other narratives. 

“I’m sharing my true convictions. And I think if we want to revive our constitutional republic, we deserve a government that tells the people the truth again,” said Ramaswamy, whose campaign slogan is “Truth.”

Ramaswamy believes uncovering the “truth” behind government-related conspiracy theories is a top priority for voters, even if polls don’t show them as a top voter priority.

“What really is important to many voters, I believe, is a government that trusts them with the hard truth again,” said Ramaswamy.

On Tuesday evening, Ramaswamy received an endorsement King, the former Iowa congressman who lost his seat in 2020 to a GOP primary challenger amid backlash over racist remarks. He also earned condemnation from members of his own party for comments he once made about whether humans would exist if not for babies born as a result of rape and incest.

Despite the controversies that surround King, Ramaswamy says he’s “proud to have his endorsement.”

“I think it helps to have his endorsement. In the sense that it helps to have anybody who’s aligned with your own views and vision to say publicly that they support you,” Ramaswamy said.