Just 12 hours after announcing his White House bid on Fox News, multi-millionaire businessman and anti-Woke crusader Vivek Ramaswamy was campaigning in the Granite State.
On Wednesday morning, the author of “Woke, Inc.” was at Potter’s Bakery in Rochester for a meet-and-greet with voters. After multiple stops, he was at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester in time for dinner before making his way to a Q&A session at Murphy’s Taproom.
In a sign of Ramaswamy’s media-savvy approach to the campaign, he had an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday explaining why he is in the race. (“I am launching not only a political campaign but a cultural movement to create a new American Dream—one that is not only about money but about the unapologetic pursuit of excellence.”)
He also released a highly-produced introduction video, and he was followed by a camera crew grabbing footage of the candidate on the Granite State stump.
Vivek (rhymes with “cake”) Ramaswamy graduated from Harvard University and Yale Law School. He describes himself as “a first-generation American entrepreneur, investor, and New York Times best-selling author from southwest Ohio” on his website. A former biotech executive, he now runs Strive Asset Management, which explicitly pushes back against the progressive ESG (Environment, Social, and, Governance) movement and pressures private companies to focus instead on profitability.
His personal wealth is estimated at $500 million, according to the Financial Times.
At 37, Ramaswamy could wait to run for president in 2064 and still be younger than President Biden is today. Enjoying a burger at the legendary Red Arrow — a mandatory stop for presidential hopefuls in the Granite State — he was asked about the idea of such a young, political novice running for the world’s most powerful job.
“If I’m running to be the most powerful guy in the world, then I’m not the right guy for the job,” Ramaswamy told NHJournal. “I think that right now, the national identity crisis we’re in demands a vision for our nation. This is not someone else’s vision that I’m channeling. This is a vision that I’ve developed over the last three years.
“I think I’m speaking as a member of my generation to the next generation of Americans. And I think that I am the best-positioned candidate today to deliver that vision.”
What is Ramaswamy’s vision? The word “merit” appears regularly in his policy discussions, as opposed to identity politics and the “Woke” advocacy he has written an entire book arguing against.
“It may seem presumptuous for a 37-year-old political outsider to pursue the highest office in the land, but I am running on a vision for our nation—one that revives merit in every sphere of American life,” Ramaswamy wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
That includes using merit to determine who enters what college, who gets to immigrate to the U.S., and “determining which ideas win in America” — aka “free speech,” one of his key issues.
But when it comes to competing with China, Ramaswamy said Wednesday, he believes the U.S. should put national security ahead of free market competition.
“I’m not an industrial policy guy at the expense of market principles, but I think in the hierarchy, national security still comes first as it relates to China,” Ramaswamy said. “A lot of the policies I support in terms of making sure that the United States declares independence from China may sound like industrial policy. But I’m not coming from an industrial policy place with it.”
Asked if the policy, wherever it comes from, is still an industrial policy that gives special protections to U.S. businesses, Ramaswamy acknowledged that, “as it relates to China, yes.”
Asked how he was greeted on his first day in New Hampshire, Ramaswamy echoed what many presidential hopefuls have said about the experience.
“I think that the thing I like about this place is it’s got a hunger for ideas. It’s not just about going through the motions. I think it’s a state that, it seems to me, takes its responsibility pretty seriously of vetting candidates in 3D. I like that. I wasn’t just walking around giving speeches today. These were conversations.”
At Murphy’s, Ramaswamy participated in an onstage discussion moderated by WFEA radio’s Drew Cline. “It was an interesting discussion,” said Cline, who is also president of the free market Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy. “He has the ability to make people think about issues in ways they haven’t before.”
“He was sharp, quick on his feet,” one Republican activist in the audience said afterward. “And he’ll only get better.”
Still, why launch a long-shot bid for the presidency when he is already having an impact on politics with his frequent media appearances, lectures, and books? In fact, he has got a new book coming out this spring: “Capitalist Punishment; How Wall Street is Using Your Money to Create a Country You Didn’t Vote For.”
Ramaswamy acknowledged he was “able to drive change informally. That set a pretty high bar for me to sort of say that I’m going to take a different tack.
“But I think that the exception to that rule would be running for president with an agenda of actually solving some of these problems.”