At the “No B.S. BBQ” hosted by former U.S. Sen. and Ambassador Scott Brown and Gail Huff Brown on Sunday, Republican presidential candidate and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy acknowledged what was special about the event and New Hampshire’s role in the nomination process.

“There’s no social media algorithms between us. There’s no TV screens between us,” Ramaswamy observed. “That is why we have to keep the First-in-the-Nation primary status intact. We have to keep it that way because this is how you select presidents.”

State Rep. Fred Doucette (R-Salem), a senior advisor to the Ramaswamy campaign and his New Hampshire state chairman, said the event was “phenomenally successful.”

“Vivek spent a beautiful afternoon in Rye, addressing questions from very tuned-in citizens concerned about the future direction of our country,” Doucette told NHJournal. “The Browns have been hosting presidential candidates during this cycle, and Ambassador Brown stated this is by far the biggest crowd he has hosted for any of the candidates.

The crowd at Vivek Ramaswamy’s appearance at the “No B.S. BBQ” hosted by former Ambassador Scott Brown and his wife, Gail Huff Brown.

“Vivek’s message is resonating with the voters and voices of the Granite State, and we look forward to having him back to visit again on Tuesday.”

While the crowd appeared to like what they heard from Ramaswamy, one theme stood out in his remarks: Taking on the administrative state.

“A radical dream that I have as a citizen today is that the people who we elect to run the government, they ought to be the ones who actually run the government, not the managerial bureaucracy in the deep state that pulls the triggers of power today,” Ramaswamy said.

In addition to abolishing, or “gutting,” the FBI, IRS, ATF, CDC, U.S. Department of Education, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission — “If it’s three letters, we’ll probably have a freight train running right through the institution” — Ramaswamy also called for term limits for bureaucrats.

“If you all hire me for that job [president] and I can’t work for you for more than eight years, which I think is a good thing,” Ramaswamy said, “then neither should any of those federal bureaucrats…. Eight-year term limits for the bureaucracy over the civil service protection.”

Such a strong stance against the “fourth branch of government” resonated with many in the audience. Andy Dow of Farmington, N.H., agreed something needs to be done to ensure accountability in the federal government.

“Department of Justice, FBI, I don’t know about them being done away with totally, but they just need to clean house, get the politics out of it, obey the Constitution, do your jobs, uphold the law,” Dow told NHJournal. “They should be held accountable, too. There’s just so much shady stuff going on in the last couple of years, and the stuff’s just coming out.”

Asked whether Ramaswamy’s anti-bureaucratic message resonated with him, Craig Souders of Nottingham, N.H., replied, “It certainly does. It doesn’t matter who the president is sometimes, it’s all the entrenched bureaucrats that are there for decades. Yeah, it certainly speaks for me.”

Honing in on New Hampshire issues specifically, Ramaswamy even identified the administrative state as the source of the Granite State’s housing affordability crisis. “I hate to sound like a broken record,” the 38-year-old entrepreneur said, “but it comes back to the rotten, corrupt federal bureaucratic state.”

In a crowded Republican primary field where it is often difficult to distinguish one candidate from another based on talking points and issue positions — whether it be handling the federal bureaucracy, managing the war in Ukraine, or addressing the Southern border — Ramaswamy tried to offer primary voters a clear choice.

“The reality is that in every primary, though, we do face a choice, and the choice we face in 2024 is this: Do you want incremental reform, or do you want revolution?” Ramaswamy asked. “I stand on the side of revolution. I stand on the side of the American Revolution.”

This attempt to differentiate himself from others in the race may be paying off. In an article about Ramaswamy’s “rapid rise” in the polls, Politico cites his steady third-place standing in the race — and one recent poll shows him in second place, ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Vivek Ramaswamy

Melissa Hannah of Somersworth, N.H., found Ramaswamy to be refreshing.

“I’m gravitating more and more to him,” she told NHJournal. “I think he’s refreshing. I love the fact that he’s an entrepreneur.”

When asked how Ramaswamy differs from other Republican candidates, most notably frontrunners former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Hannah pointed out that Ramaswamy brought all the good of Trump without any of the bad.

“I voted for Donald Trump. I really liked Donald Trump’s policies for the country. As a personality, he’s not a favorite of mine,” Hannah said.

“Ron DeSantis, I think, has done a lot of good for Florida, as well,” she added. “I think Vivek is just a fresher taste, a younger idea, thought process, thinker, bringing more to the country based on the history of the country. I don’t think he’s a politician, either. I like Donald Trump because he wasn’t a politician…. I think Vivek is similar, and he’s 38, and I think that’s incredible. A lot of great energy.”

Scott and Gail Huff Brown will host four other Republican candidates over the next four weeks at their “No B.S. BBQ” in Rye: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez on August 16, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on August 25, former Vice President Mike Pence on September 4 (the announcement of which drew boos from the crowd on Sunday), and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott on September 7.

Find all upcoming presidential campaign events in the Granite State on NHJournal’s FITN 2024 Calendar.