Trump Supporters to Vivek: “We’re Just Not That Into You”

"Vivek Ramaswamy speaking with attendees at the 2022 AmericaFest at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona." by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 "Vivek Ramaswamy speaking with attendees at the 2022 AmericaFest at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona." by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

All observers agree, Vivek Ramaswamy is the current It girl of MAGA politics. Politico, the online magazine with their finger on the pulse of Washington, recently wrote about his “astonishing rise.” Axios, another astute watcher, detailed the fundraising bump he got after the debate in August. Charlie Sykes, Republican apostate with a long career in right-wing talk radio, called him the MAGA rock star

Recently, Trump himself gave in to Ramaswamy-mentum by suggesting he might pick the 38-year-old from Ohio as his running mate. 

No one, apparently, thought to check with Trump’s MAGA base. 

“HUGE mistake,” one poster said in response to Trump’s trial balloon. “Nope,” said another. Another responded with a forehead-smacking emoji.

Ramaswamy’s policy positions appear tailormade to excite the plurality of the Republican base that loves Trump. Whether on pardoning Trump, the notion that those striving for racial equality are the real racists (like the KKK), American nationalism, or on stopping aid for Ukraine, Ramaswamy has focused like a laser on pleasing the right-wing populist chunk of the Republican electorate.

To some extent, this has worked.

Several big right-wing influencers have taken to him. Charlie Kirk, Jack Posobiec, Candace Owens — each of whom have millions of followers on X — have given Ramaswamy positive coverage. It is also the case that these influencers are primarily Trump supporters, and see Ramaswamy as challenging DeSantis’s second position in the polls.

So much for the influencers. What about the ones who are to be influenced?

“Hard pass,” one response to a Truth from Posobiec says. “Barf,” says another. 

Indeed, a look at MAGA social media where regular people post: Telegram channels, Rumble comment sections, Patriot forums, Gab, and Truth Social, shows that the base is just not that into him.

It begins with identity…

“South Asians have become leaders of London, UK, Scotland in short order,” a comment on the Patriots forum says. “Nope, nothing remotely suspicious going on here.”

“Amazing that this Hindu got exposed in like a week,” another comment on a post about Ramaswamy’s plan to hire Trump as an advisor says. Slurs meant for Hindus and Indians are directed at him, includingspothead,” “Pajeet,” “slumdog millionaire,” and “street-shitter;” and he is painted with Indian stereotypes, like the caste system, call centers, and outsourcing

“Vivek’s version of the American dream is […] based in Paganism,” a subtitle on an episode of the  Stew Peters Show says. Peters’s channel on Rumble has over half a million followers. While calling him Trump’s brown-noser and a phony, Peters shows an image of Ramaswamy in the corner of the screen alongside an image of the Hindu god, Shiva.

In fact, like many elites, Ramaswamy does not seem to understand that the MAGA base organizes around identity and culture first, ideas second. He seems to think that merely adopting the right positions will bring him inside the door. But many said frankly they would never vote for him because he is Indian, because he is a Hindu, because he is anti-Christ, because he is an “anchor baby,” and questioned who the “God” he speaks of really is.

…goes on to distrust…

His identity alone paints him as an outsider that commenters are inclined to distrust. But once that trust is lost, every element of Ramaswamy’s biography becomes fodder for more distrust. Recently, a 2003 video of Ramaswamy on the set of MSNBC’s Hardball went viral on right-wing media. In it, he questions Al Sharpton on his qualifications for the presidency, coming across as a college Democrat. “But now he wants to be the GOP nominee?” the poster, MAGA influencer Rogan O’Handley asks sarcastically

In contrast, Trump, who had been known to donate to Democrats and in fact had been a Democrat himself, caused almost no heartburn. He was an insider and thus trusted. 

Even posts on Truth Social praising Ramaswamy, like one by PizzaGate influencer Jack Posobiec, or by Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, receive comments that almost universally express suspicion. Some call him a plant. Some call him a Trojan Horse. Some call him deceitful, or a scammer. Some are more colorful: “a polished turd like Obama,” a “smooth talking snake,” a “swamp rat,” or a “Manchurian candidate.” Four-letter words come out too: he is a “[f-word] rat.”

Or possibly the worst insult of all, coming from a Trump-loving Republican: “The conservative Barack Obama.”

…then to antisemitism

Most populist paranoia tends to eventually swirl down the drain of antisemitism, and the suspicions about Ramaswamy are no exception. As one example, a post on Gab uses the white supremacist term “ZOG” to insinuate that Ramaswamy has been placed in this position by Jews to humiliate and replace whites. This plays on a common antisemitic trope that Jews are deliberately flooding white societies with people of color. 

The notion that he is a “Soros plant” crops up in practically every third post. The notion that he has connections with the World Economic Forum (WEF), which, in antisemitic lore, is an instrument of the Great Reset, crops up almost as frequently: he is often called a “WEF puppet.” Some insinuate that the WEF has “shoved” Hindus like Ramaswamy into US presidential contests.

No doubt, Ramaswamy has provided them some fodder for the Soros and WEF connections. Having received a Paul and Daisy Soros fellowship in 2011 (Paul is the brother of the more famous George), he paid a Wikipedia editor to remove that biographical detail from his wiki page just two weeks prior to announcing his run for president. Trump supporter O’Handley then dug up some old tweets from Ramaswamy where he comfortably chats with the Soros fellowship organization and praises Soros explicitly [archived]. 

Ramaswamy made a similar late (and bombastic) effort to walk away from his WEF connection, which is that he had been named a WEF “Young Global Leader” in 2021.

None of these attempts to scrub his record have helped. They only heighten MAGA suspicion: “Ramaswamy hides his connections to Soros, [WEF], and CCP,” an interview with Gateway Pundit owner Joe Hoft is titled.

Pharma Bro

In a video created by the founder of the Reawaken America tour, Yoda runs through facts about Ramaswamy, calling him ‘Ramaswampy.’ “His company Roivant, unprofitable it is, since 2014,” Yoda says. A chagrined Luke Skywalker wails, “but he says all the conservative things I want to hear!”

Ramaswamy’s pharma-bro past has given rise to a cottage industry of viral posts on right-wing media that dig into the details of his company Roivant.

“In the nine years [Roivant] has been in business, it has never been profitable or delivered a working product,” podcaster Matt Kim says in a video that spread far and wide over Telegram, Gab, and the patriot forums.

“Here’s Ramaswamy in 2015, scamming the public on his Alzheimer drug,” a finance account tweeted, along with a clip of Ramaswamy on Jim Cramer’s show on CNBC hyping a drug for Alzheimer’s disease that later failed clinical trials. The tweet did the rounds on the patriot forum: “Vivek bullshitting Wall Street,” a repost said.

Many of these critiques overstate the facts. It is true, according to reporting by the New York Times, that Ramaswamy made millions from Axovant, one of Roivant’s subsidiaries, before the Alzheimer’s drug it was formed around failed clinical trials. However, there is no evidence of a scam. Since then, Roivant has gotten FDA approvals for six other drugs. 

That hasn’t stopped people in the MAGA world from spreading breathless rumors. The facts of Ramaswamy’s fortune are recounted in a blog post and podcast titled “The MULTI-BILLION Dollar Financial FRAUD” by Christian Darnton. It was passed around on comment sections, Gab, and the patriot forum

Vivek Pharmaswamy,” one poster dubbed him.

Aside from so-called scams, MAGA readers object even to his association with pharmaceutical firms, particularly those connected in any way with Covid — the source of the most wild-eyed conspiracy theories, from vaccines causing genocide to Nuremberg trials for the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna.

Roivant subsidiary Genevant owns a patent related to the mRNA vaccine therapy used against Covid. Roivant itself is in a partnership with Pfizer

“SAY. NO. MORE,” a telegram post by Patriot Voice, a channel with over 51K followers, said highlighting the above facts. A Truth Social account with over 11K followers ran through these same details and got a chorus of amens.

Yoda, in the dubbed video linked above, also weighs in. “In 2022, he partnered with Pfizer,” Yoda says. The video ran on a channel with over 260K followers on Rumble. “Vivek rhymes with snake,” a reply points out, amid other slurs.

Election fraud

Perhaps little about Ramaswamy gives Trump supporters more pause than the fact that he does not believe the 2020 election was stolen. In his 2022 book Nation of Victims, he calls Trump a “sore loser” and writes that his election fraud claims were weak. He cites Trump as an example of the Republican party’s slide into grievance.

Now he wants to lead that party, presumably out of that pit of grievance. But he has to get there first. Thus, he has repeatedly claimed that his very clear words in his book are being misrepresented. 

In his face-to-face confrontation with Trump supporter Rogan O’Handley on Candace Owen’s podcast on Aug. 10, it was clear that O’Handley did not buy his tapdance at all, despite Ramaswamy’s flattery.

Ramaswamy claimed in the interview that those words about Trump were “tongue-in-cheek” and the person he really referred to was Stacy Abrams. To be clear, there is no reading of the “Sore losers” chapter that supports that framing. He also tried to conflate his message — that the 2020 election was “rigged” by big tech — with Trump’s message, that there was ballot fraud. 

As Ramaswamy jumps from topic to topic in the course of the interview, O’Handley’s eyes get narrower and narrower. Citing a number of debunked theories about ballot fraud, O’Handley says, “As a voice for the MAGA base, If you do not believe that there was election fraud beyond what big tech suppressed, […] that is disqualifying for anyone running in the GOP.”

Ramaswamy backpedals. “I believe there was absolutely ballot fraud,” he says, after having just repudiated it minutes ago.

Not surprisingly, the interview did not convince O’Handley. He has gone on to repeatedly criticize Ramaswamy. “I’m shocked at how many are fooled by his silver tongue,” he said in a tweet.  

Nor did the interview convince others in the MAGA base. “He’s fake and very sneaky,” a follower says on Truth Social. 

“You don’t release a book in 2022 and then turn around not even a year later to throw your support to a candidate that […] you flat out call a loser in your book,” a Trump supporter says on Gab.

They’re just not that into him

The MAGA base’s utter besottedness with Trump despite his many flaws has led many in the mainstream to imagine that the base is easy to bamboozle. No doubt, Ramaswamy, with his obvious flip-flops, his transparent lies and pandering, has gone the farthest in attempting to leverage it.

At least so far, his ploy does not seem to be working. 

Perhaps the best way to underline this is the number of nicknames that have emerged for Ramaswamy. “Ramaswampy” is a common one. “Ramasmarmy” and “Ramascammy” are too. Some riff on other themes and go with “Rinoswampy” or “Pharmaswamy”. 
But where Trump is concerned, the only nickname ever applied to him is GEOTUS: God Emperor of the United States.

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