Last Monday we were able to have a conversation with political outsider and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy about his campaign for the White House. Here is how that conversation went:
Ramaswamy said he is a “hard pro-lifer” and believes there is a role for the federal government in cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and other federal “tilting of the scales” that is happening.
“But if we federalize this issue, I believe more babies will die in the next 30 years because that opens the Left to then, once they get power, do what the Supreme Court has otherwise held is a matter for the states,” he said.
We asked if America runs the risk of allowing states to define who is and isn’t a person as it did during slavery, but he said if that’s the case then a constitutional amendment is necessary.
“It’s not within the existing constitution and I’m a constitutionalist,” he said. “That’s where I swore my oath to. Once you get into the game of trying to do what you think needs to be done at the federal level when in fact the Constitution reserves it to the states, you run into trouble.”
Ramaswamy said he is pro-life and that means that abortion is murder. But murder laws are handled at the state level.
We asked about instances where murder is committed crossing state lines, which then falls under federal law.
Ramaswamy proposed a limited scope with limited jurisdictional law that relies on crossing state lines but said it may take a “pretty expansive reading” of the Commerce Clause, but in that narrow circumstance, it could be a federal issue.
But he still believes it should be handled at the state level.
Sex changes on minors
If the Constitution is silent on the right to life, we asked if the Constitution is also silent on whether the federal government can do anything to ban experimental sex-change treatments and surgeries on kids.
“It’s an open question,” he said. “That may need to be driven by the federal government using the strings of the purse — to say we’re not going to fund that type of behavior indirectly via healthcare.”
Ramaswamy said he thinks there will continue to be a question of whether the issue needs to be state-driven versus federal agencies simply not paying for it.
There are federal bans, he acknowledged, on cigarettes, noting the protection of children and government interest.
Respect for Marriage Act
The very name of the recently signed law is “misleading,” Ramaswamy said. It said federally institutionalizing one vision of marriage is a mistake and he has concerns for religious freedom under the law.
With his answer, we asked why he thought the Republican field has given President Donald J. Trump a pass for hosting a party at Mar-a-Lago celebrating the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.
“I’m not a political analyst,” he said. “I’m more into sharing my convictions.”
He reiterated that he believes the issue should again fall back to the states and reinforced his concerns about religious freedom. He said it isn’t about antipathy toward any one group of people. Instead, the issue should be left to the states and the people inside of those states.
“Why haven’t they gone after (Trump)?” he said. “I don’t know.”
Sexual orientation & gender identity as a protected class
We asked Ramaswamy what he thought about including sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. We noted that Iowa includes those two groups in its civil rights code.
“Shocking,” Ramaswamy said. “I would repeal them all — that’d be first, best choice. Second best choice is political expression should be on the list.”
Ramaswamy said it is a “mistake” for Iowa to reinforce those protections in its civil rights code and noted it is “inexcusable” for Iowa to codify it because the federal government has said they should be protected classes.
Not budging on foreign policy
We asked Ramaswamy if he felt his foreign policy positions have led to him losing some support after receiving a bump following the first debate. And we also pointed out that despite losing that support, he hasn’t changed his tune.
“I’d rather lose than be a flag that waves in whatever direction the wind blows,” he said. “Reagan’s view was you have to persuade people. I know that in order to win this election, I have to persuade people of my views. People need to be led and I’m running to be a leader.”
Ramaswamy said some people have a “naive impulse” to believe it is America’s job to take a side in what they think is good versus evil.
“But double click and you realize that just because Putin is bad doesn’t mean that Ukraine is good,” he said. “We have to educate people on this fact because we’re not getting it from the media. I think that is what cost me for sure and I don’t care about that from a changing-my-mind perspective. I care about it deeply because it shows me that I have a responsibility to actually step up and educate people on what’s actually going on and our risk of World War III and putting our next generation at risk at a time when we’re $33 trillion in the hole. We can’t afford to be fighting somebody else’s war.”
A significant portion of America’s debt can be directly traced to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“And for what,” Ramaswamy asks.
He notes that the Taliban is still in control in Afghanistan and Iraq is still no American friend. With the world on the brink of a potential war, we asked Ramaswamy what his message is to Americans concerned about the potential for a military draft.
“We fought the Vietnam War before,” he said. “People were drafted and coopted to fight whether they believed in those war objections. If you’re a young voter today, be very wary of somebody who is trigger-happy and making money off of going to war. It’s concerning that we have contenders in the Republican Party who have profited from being military contractors and are profiting now while running their presidential campaigns.”
In his opinion, Ronald Reagan has been “mythologized” as a neocon, which Ramaswamy said Reagan was not. He noted that following the Beirut bombing, America left Lebanon. Instead, Reagan focused on the Soviet Union, which was the real threat.
“The equivalent threat today is China,” he said. “We don’t focus enough on China.”
Taking America First farther
While many “Monday morning quarterback” President Trump, Ramaswamy said he isn’t interested in that.
“I’ll honor his legacy as I will as President,” he said.
But, there is a reason to support his candidacy rather than Trump’s.
“I think there’s a fundamental choice about who is going to take the America First agenda further,” he said. “I think it has been a long time, as I said here today, since we’ve had a President where you can look your kid in the eye and tell them that you want them to grow up and be like (the President). It’s been a long time. That’s the standard I want voters in this state to hold me to. That’s the standard we will hold ourselves to.”
Ramaswamy said it will take someone of a different generation, the next generation to reach a new generation of Americans. He said he’ll build on the foundation Trump laid, but also go further.
Speaking with non-traditional Republican groups is something Ramaswamy has made a habit. In his mind, conservatives have gotten lazy and simply rely on the Left’s lunacy rather than actually presenting competing ideas.
“I’m reaching young people in a way that I don’t think any Republican has in a generation,” he said. “That’s necessary — we’re doing it for them.”
Conservatives must be disciplined in saying what they stand for rather than just attack the Left for its race, gender, sexuality and climate religions.
“We have to make the case for individual, family, nation and God,” he said. “Those are actual values that we can stand for and that’s part of why I’m in this.”
His message to Iowans
It doesn’t take long to realize Ramaswamy isn’t a fan of Super PACs. He called them “corrupt” and a “cancer on American politics.”
“Every politician dances to the tune of their biggest donor,” he said. “In my case, my biggest donor is me. It allows me to speak the truth not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard.”
So, we asked, is it worth it? If he finishes at 2 percent on Jan. 15 in the Iowa Caucus, will it all be worth it?
“I don’t think that’s where we’re going to finish,” he said. “I think we have a good shot at winning Iowa. I’m not a Plan B person. Iowa breaks late.”
Ramaswamy said he has clear objectives of shutting down the Deep State at home and declaring independence from China abroad while reviving national pride.
“I can do that better than anybody else,” he said. “I think the people are hungry for it. More than anybody else, I am best equipped to actually shut down the federal bureaucracy and to keep us out of World War III. Nobody else is going to do that the way that I’m able to.”