Who is Vivek Ramaswamy?He grabbed Spotlight at the First Republican Primary Debate

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Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have dominated the Republican presidential nomination fight for much of the year. Neither dominated the debate stage Wednesday night. Trump decided to skip the GOP’s opening presidential primary debate. Much of the night was dominated by political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy, according to media reports.
Vivek Ramaswamy, 38 year old multimillionaire, is a former biotech executive. According to Reuters, he is a Hindu raised in the American Midwest, Ramaswamy, was born in Ohio to immigrant parents from southern India. He was raised in the Hindu faith of his parents, but went to a Catholic high school. He earned a biology degree at Harvard University before moving on to Yale Law School.
Ramaswamy worked as a hedge fund investor and says he had already made several million dollars before graduating from Yale. In 2014 he founded his own biotech company, Roivant Sciences, which bought patents from larger companies for drugs that had not yet been fully developed and marketed. He resigned as CEO in 2021. In 2023 the business magazine Forbes estimated Ramaswamy’s wealth at $630 million.
Ramaswamy declared his campaign for president in February, at a time when his bid looked like a long shot. Ramaswamy still languishes in the single digits in most polls but has been gaining on many of his rivals, most notably Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is now fighting to retain his second-place status.
His policy positions are mostly deeply conservative. He opposes affirmative action and supports state-level bans on abortion after six weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and if the mother’s life is in danger. He wants to greatly expand the powers of the presidency and dismantle much of the federal government, including the FBI, the Department of Education and the tax-collecting Internal Revenue Service.
He opposes NATO membership for Ukraine and has said Kiev should make concessions to Russia to end the war, including allowing it to retain parts of Ukraine it already occupies.
In recent years, Ramaswamy has become a fierce conservative. In his 2021 bestseller ‘Woke, Inc.’, Ramaswamy decries decisions by some big companies to base business strategy around social justice and climate change concerns, and lambastes “wokeism” as an insidious influence on hard work, capitalism, religious faith and patriotism. The book raised Ramaswamy’s profile among conservatives, and he began his rapid ascension as a right-wing star.
Though he’s well behind Trump, Ramaswamy has crept up in recent polls, leading to his position next to DeSantis at center stage.
At one point he declared, “I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for.” He slammed his rivals as “super PAC puppets” who were using “ready-made, pre-prepared slogans” to attack him.
But he was not spared by his rivals at the debate.
“Now is not the time for on-the-job training,” Mike Pence said. “We don’t need to bring in a rookie.”
Christie cut in during one of Ramaswamy’s most biting attacks. “I’ve had enough of a guy who stands up here who sounds like ChatGPT,” Christie said, adding that Ramaswamy’s opening line about being a skinny guy with a hard-to-pronounce name reminded him of former President Barack Obama.
Haley attacked Ramaswamy’s argument that the U.S. shouldn’t support Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s invasion. “Under your watch, you would make America less safe. You have no foreign policy experience and it shows,” Haley told him, standing directly to his left.