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'ChatGPT' Vivek Ramaswamy in 2nd spot behind Trump after US debate

By Lalit K Jha
August 24, 2023 11:48 IST
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Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and a Republican presidential aspirant have called his fellow rival Indian-American Vivek Ramaswamy a guy who sounds like ChatGPT and described him as an "amateur" Barack Obama.

IMAGE: Former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley debate each other at the first Republican candidates' debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US, August 23, 2023. This is the first time in American history that two Indian Americans are in the running for the presidency. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Christie, 60, on Wednesday, said this during the maiden Republican presidential debate against Ramaswamy, 38, the youngest of the GOP candidates on the stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which was telecast live by Fox News and its affiliate channels.

Latest opinion polls show that Ramaswamy is now the second in lead after former US president Donald Trump. The latter did not participate in the debate that had eight aspirants on the stage.

”Hold on, I've had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT,” Christie said launching the first of the series of attacks against Ramaswamy after he said that the climate change agenda is a hoax.


”He stands up here, and the last person in one of these debates, Brett, 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. And I'm afraid we're dealing with the same type of amateur tendencies tonight," Christie added.

Ramaswamy who in recent weeks has seen his popularity moving up the ladder against other GOP presidential aspirants was also attacked by former Vice President Mike Pence who called him a rookie.

”We don't need to bring in a rookie,” Pence said, pointing towards Ramaswamy.

Even President Joe Biden appeared to react to Ramaswamy's comment during the debate on climate change.

"Climate change is real, by the way," the president posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, soon after Ramaswamy described it as a hoax.

"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. And the reality is the anti-carbon agenda is the wet blanket on our economy. And so the reality is more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate," Ramaswamy said.

Two Indian-Americans were on the Republican presidential debate stage, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the only woman in the race so far and entrepreneur-turned-politician Ramaswamy, the youngest of them on the stage.

”You've got people on this stage that won't even talk about issues like social security and medicare. I mean, Vivek, you recently said the president can't do everything. Well, I got news for you, Vivek. I've been in the hallway. I've been in the West Wing. A president of the United States has to confront every crisis facing America," Pence said, referring to Ramaswamy.

"This isn't that complicated, guys," Ramaswamy responded.

"Unlock American energy, drill, frack, burn coal, embrace nuclear. Put people back to work by no longer paying them more to stay at home. Reform the US Fed, stabilise the US dollar and go to war. The only war that I will declare as US president will be the war on the federal administrative state that is the source of those toxic regulations, acting like a wet blanket on the economy," said the young Indian-American.

IMAGE: Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former US Vice President Mike Pence and former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy laugh with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a break at the first Republican candidates' debate of the 2024 US presidential campaign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US, August 23, 2023. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Earlier, Ramaswamy described himself as a skinny guy with a funny name.

”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?" he said with a smile on his face.

"I'll tell you, I'm not a politician. You're right about that. I'm an entrepreneur. My parents came to this country with no money 40 years ago. I have gone on to found multi-billion dollar companies. That is the American dream. And I am genuinely worried that that American dream will not exist for our two sons and their generation unless we do something about it," Ramaswamy said.

During the debate, Ramaswamy was continuously being attacked and pointed out in person by Pence and Christie.

Meanwhile, Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna said that former US President Obama must be smiling that a 38-year-old son (Ramaswamy) of Hindu immigrants running to the right of Trump is "cribbing from him".

"Somewhere @BarackObama must be smiling that a 38-year-old son of Hindu immigrants running to the right of Trump is cribbing from him! Obama's vision for a multiracial democracy is seeping into our politics despite the intense backlash. A slow but satisfying vindication," Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna posted on X.

A second-generation Indian-American, Ramaswamy founded Roivant Sciences in 2014 and led the largest biotech IPOs of 2015 and 2016, eventually culminating in successful clinical trials in multiple disease areas that led to FDA-approved products, according to his bio.

On another front, Indian-American US presidential aspirants Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy clashed during the Republican Party's maiden presidential primary debate over foreign policy issues, with the former South Carolina Governor criticising her rival and entrepreneur for lacking foreign policy experience and supporting Russia.

Haley, 51, and Ramaswamy, 38, have been clashing over foreign policy issues over the past few days on social media.

During the debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Wednesday, Haley accused Ramaswamy of supporting America's foreign adversaries and abandoning its friends after he said he would not support Ukraine in the war against Russia.

Standing next to him, Haley, the former US Ambassador to the UN, slammed her fellow Indian-American that he is taking the side of a ”murderer” Russian president and said that the US would be unsafe under his presidency.

”He wants to hand Ukraine to Russia, he wants to let China eat Taiwan, he wants to go and stop funding Israel,” Haley said. ”You don't do that to friends. What you do instead is you have the backs of your friends.”

While Haley was speaking, Ramaswamy kept on saying false, false.

Ramaswamy accused her of ”pushing this lie” about him.

With former president Donald Trump skipping the first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate, eight of his primary rivals brawled for second-place status, US media reported.

In the last two presidential elections, Indian-Americans have thrown their hats into the ring for the White House. The first one was Bobby Jindal in 2016 and Vice President Kamala Harris in 2022.

But this is the first time in American presidential history that two Indian-Americans were standing on the same primary presidential debate stage. 

IMAGE: Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former US Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, US Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum debate at the first Republican candidates' debate of the 2024 US presidential campaign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US, August 23, 2023. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

”You are choosing a murderer over a pro-American country ... You would make America less safe. You have no foreign policy experience, and it shows," Haley told Ramaswamy. The next debate will be on September 22.

Ramaswamy said he would not support giving more aid to war-torn Ukraine.

”I would not, and this is disastrous. We should use those same military resources to prevent the invasion of our own southern border here in the United States. Ukraine is not a priority for the United States of America,” Ramaswamy said as he differed on foreign policy issues with Haley and other presidential aspirants.

”I reject the consensus that 'winning' in Ukraine is a vital US interest. Nearly the entire GOP (Republican) field rails against (Joe) Biden, but cut through the grandstanding & it turns out they're solidly with him on the most important foreign policy issue of our time. America First 2.0,” he said.

”The US military has one purpose above all, it's to defend America's home turf. Yet, the defence establishment recoils at this idea,” he added.

Ramaswamy alleged that Haley was backing Ukraine at the behest of large defence contractors. ”I wish you well in your future career on the boards of Lockheed (Martin) and Raytheon," he said.

Following the debate, The Wall Street Journal wrote that Vivek Ramaswamy is not a nobody anymore.

”The other candidates have taken notice of Ramaswamy, and they don't seem to like him very much. The 38-year-old outsider who started the race polling at 0 per cent has moved up in polls for his unconventional ideas. Several of the candidates took a shot at him,” the daily wrote.

”Attacks included everything from his lack of political experience, the way he answered questions and his foreign policy views. Ramaswamy responded by slinging insults right back. It remains to be seen if his combative, unconventional style was effective, but he certainly took advantage of the spotlight. He was the most-searched candidate at the end of the debate,” the journal said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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