A reader on Twitter recently complained that an earlier article referred to the candidates as “losers,” so I’m curious to know how that reader reacted to Vivek Ramaswamay’s opening remark at the GOP primary debate in Miami which used that same word to refer to the modern Republican party. Republicans lost big in Tuesday night’s elections, leading to both an Ohio constitutional amendment protecting abortion access for women as well as the passing of a bill legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults (Senate President Matt Huffman has promised to repeal the recreational marijuana bill, but there’s nothing to be done about a constitutional amendment at this time).
In addition to big losses in Virginia and deep-red Kentucky, Vivek also brought up national losses in 2018 and 2020 and lamented the failure of the prophesied “2022 red wave” to materialize. He put a hefty amount of blame on Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel for the losses, who, as it turned out, was sitting in the front row. She declined his offer to immediately resign on camera. He also used his opening statement to attack the moderators of the debate and mainstream media in general, pointedly ignoring the opening question that tasked him with describing his virtues compared to those of national frontrunner Donald Trump. He got some applause, he got some boos, and later Nikki Haley told him that he was scum live on national television and was applauded for it. He had a big night.
Wednesday night’s debate was much more substantive than previous events, possibly because a lot of dead weight has been shaken off. Without Doug Burgum, Mike Pence, or Asa Hutchinson taking up space candidates had more room to maneuver and draw distinctions between themselves and their competitors, and no one accomplished this more successfully than Vivek Ramaswamay.
Several times throughout the night he was able to sharply separate himself from the predictable Republican talking points the other candidates were giving out. He was far ahead of the curve when it came to Ukraine and the United State’s growing, if unspoken, reluctance to continue funding a war that is taking far too long and accomplishing next to nothing, especially in light of increased spending on Israel’s military assault on Gaza. He alone was willing to question the wisdom of simply attempting to ban a social media app with almost 150 million users in America because China built it. He alone noted some difficulties in going to war with a country that happens to do over 150 billion dollars worth of business with America every year.
Glorious war with China, banning the perfidious TikTok, and assured victory in Ukraine are all things that almost all republican candidates think they have to vocally believe in and support, but they are all also extremely unlikely if not outright impossible. But only Vivek Ramaswamay is apparently willing to go against the orthodoxy. Vivek has always sought to set himself apart from the crowd of established politicians, and on Wednesday he cranked this up a notch.
But Aren’t Vivek’s Numbers Still in the Toilet?
Boy, are they ever! Immediately after the last debate, a Fox focus group of Republican voters had found Ramaswamay “untrustworthy” and “arrogant”. His numbers in Iowa reflect this attitude. His unfavorables are a disaster and a shocking number of republican voters have straight up said they will never, ever vote for him, no matter what happens or who is still in the race, which is not what you want to hear going into an election.
Will This Debate Help?
Help him become president? Absolutely not, except in one very, very particular case. It’s important to remember that Chris Christie has the exact opposite opinions on China, TikTok, and Ukraine, and he’s bouncing along the bottom of the toilet bowl underneath everyone else. Republican voters aren’t deciding this election based on foreign policy. In fact they’ve already decided who they want to be president, and his name is Donald Trump. As long as he’s alive and eligible, he is going to be their pick for the 2024 nominee, and every loser on that stage knows it. They stopped running for President a long time ago. Most of them aren’t even running for Vice President; over half of them either worked directly for Trump, or owe their political career to him, and as a result are seen now as back-stabbers and betrayers for having the temerity to run against him. None of them are getting the nod from Trump. Standing behind them is Tim Scott, a weird possibly-50 year old virgin who pronounces the word “do” with three distinct vowel sounds. He’s probably not going anywhere either.
And then there’s Vivek, who, while deeply unpopular, has not betrayed Donald Trump, and even went out of his way to avoid criticizing him twice on Wednesday night. There’s more than one way to end up in the White House, even if your campaign is a joke and falls apart a year before the election. Just ask Kamala Harris.