In the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Vivek Ramaswamy, the businessman and Republican presidential candidate, is pushing an unusual strategy: leaning on conspiracy theories.
At a CNN town hall Wednesday night in Des Moines, CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip asked Ramaswamy about previous comments in which he had said that the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was an “inside job.” . – a claim for which there is no evidence and which has been refuted by numerous criminal indictments and bipartisan congressional investigations.
Instead of retracting his comments, he delved deeper.
“The reality is that we know there were federal law enforcement agents in the field. We don’t know how many,” Ramaswamy told the audience at Grand View University, at which point Phillip interrupted him to clarify. “There is no evidence that federal agents were in the crowd,” he said. Ramaswamy suggested, without providing specific details, that he had seen “multiple informants suggesting that this was the case.”
He turned to another conspiracy theory: the one involving the kidnapping plot against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Mich. She claimed of some defendants in that case that “government agents forced them to do something they otherwise would not have done.” (That claim also has no evidence to support it.)
“I don't want to have to interrupt you, I really don't, but I don't want you to mislead the audience here…” Ms. Phillip began, before Mr. Ramaswamy redirected and stated that this was “the mainstream media.” communication”. ”means that were misleading.
Ramaswamy, who has continued to praise former President Donald J. Trump while running against him for the Republican Party presidential nomination, has fallen in the polls. At the same time, on the campaign trail, during debates and at the CNN event, he has pushed conspiracy theories, including those about the origin of Covid-19 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Ms. Phillip's question Wednesday concerned Alan Hostetter, a Jan. 6 defendant who invoked Mr. Ramaswamy's comments in debate during his sentencing hearing last week by claiming that conspiracy theories about the robbery of the 2020 elections “are no longer marginal.”
Ramaswamy did not address Hostetter's comments and instead reiterated false claims, to favorable responses from the crowd.
Mr. Ramaswamy's combative behavior in public appearances was mentioned by Rylee Miller, a law student, who said that Mr. Ramaswamy seemed to have “somewhat abandoned the tact and diplomacy that I would look for in a president.” She then asked a question about how Ramaswamy would balance authenticity with “presidential demeanor”.
Ramaswamy, while responding, referred to his role as a father who would strive to “make our children proud” as president. But, he continued, voters should not “want a withered flower in the White House.”
Ramaswamy also repeated several controversial proposals he had sought during the election campaign. He said he would end birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants, starting January 2025 onward. He reiterated his call to end aid to Ukraine and back a deal “with some territorial concessions” for the country.
He also said he would support a Supreme Court ruling to take mifepristone, a commonly used abortion pill that faces a legal challenge, off the market.
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