From Boardrooms to Political Arenas: Vivek Ramaswamy’s Journey to GOP Candidate

By Jason Collins

Longshot candidate Vivek Ramaswamy came into the world of politics in 2022 with his anti-woke fund and, since then, has been working his way up the Republican candidate ladder and is now running for president. So, who is this once apolitical biotech entrepreneur, now a popular presidential candidate with zero political experience?

We’ll explore Ramaswamy and his often unconventional stances in more depth.  

Who is Vivek Ramaswamy?

Vivek Ramaswamy is a 38-year-old born in Ohio. From a young age, Ramaswamy excelled at sports and was considerably intelligent, hence his bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard University. When he was just 29 years old, Ramaswamy started his own pharmaceutical company, Roivant Sciences. This company brought in millions of dollars for the bio-engineer. Not content with this entrepreneurial success, he continued to succeed in other ventures. In 2007, he worked for a hedge fund that saw him make millions of dollars in just seven years.

During these early years, Ramaswamy had always claimed to be apolitical. Ramaswamy said so himself in an article he wrote that was published in the Wall Street Journal titled The ‘Stakeholders’ vs. the People. Ramaswamy expressed his concern that politics was interfering with the corporate sector of the US market. He also went on to insult diversity hires headed up by liberal politicians, making his disdain for politics, specifically liberals, clear. Ramaswamy seemed to adhere to a Michael Jordan Republicans (and Democrats) buy sneakers too approach preferring to remain focused on doing business with as many people as possible. Perhaps it was his contempt for liberal ideology that has exploded over the last decade that prompted his arrival into the political world he had previously disliked.   

An Introduction To Politics

In 2022 Ramaswamy became involved in the world of American politics, and that was because of his “anti-woke” Strive Asset Management. This asset management fund was created to assist companies without pushing any sort of political agenda. In an interview with CNBC, Ramaswamy emphasized that businesses must “focus on excellence over politics.”

Strive was created to be everything that ESG (environmental, social, and governance investing) is not. Many critics, including Ramaswamy, believe that ESG investments allocate money to companies based on their political alliances or agendas.

However, earlier in the year, CNBC uncovered emails that show evidence that Strive dealt with Republican candidates, a fact that Ramaswamy did not share with voters. He was now a true politician.

His 2024 Campaign

Thanks to his anti-woke stance and Strive, Ramaswamy was making a name for himself in Republican circles and, in February 2023, announced his presidential campaign. In an editorial for the Wall Street Journal, Ramaswamy said,

To put America first, we need to rediscover what America is. That’s why I am running for president.

He also wrote that he is not only launching 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.”

His campaign slogan, “Truth,” is simple, and that’s all Ramaswamy is after in his campaign.

Since his start in the political race to become president, Ramaswamy has proven himself a worthy contender to major political figures like Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and Nikki Hayley. 

Ramaswamy’s rise from starting a funding campaign in 2022 to running for president just one year later is reminiscent of ambitious attorney turned-Democratic candidate Andrew Yang. Yang had come from nowhere with no political experience but shot to fame due to his book The War on Normal People in 2018 and various public appearances and podcasts. Yang too, was considered a longshot. Perhaps Ramaswamy took inspiration from him because the likeness is uncanny. 

Unconventional Opinions on Policies

Despite being new to the Republican candidate scene, his lack of experience, and zero name recognition,  Ramaswamy started gaining popularity for his controversial support of policies like climate change and abortion. During the first Republican debate, Ramaswamy confidently called out the climate change agenda as a hoax and was met with instant boos. Previously, he had said, “Be proud to live a high-carbon lifestyle.” His words echo many of the positions made popular by former president Donald Trump.  

Ramaswamy also made his stance as pro-life clear while claiming he would not support a federal-level abortion ban, much like his Republican rivals.  

Throughout his campaign journey, Ramaswamy has announced some big changes he would make if he were president, including changing the US Constitution. Some of these things included raising the legal age of voting from 18 to 25 years old, which he believes will help revive civic duty in the country. He would also introduce strict requirements that would allow those under 25 to vote, like serving the country. This policy change is sure to be met with much opposition aside from the fact that changing the Constitution is nearly impossible in modern America.

In a bold move, Ramaswamy announced that if president, he would fire the FBI and that funding for them would be given to the Secret Service and the Defense Intelligence Agency. This has become a popular position in the Republican Party where the base voter increasingly sees the FBI and IRS as partisan organizations.

He’s Got a Friend in Musk

His challenging opinions on international aid have garnered him much attention. Ramaswamy believes that aiding Ukraine and Israel together is not in the country’s best interests, calling the aid disastrous. This, in turn, has often made him subject to criticism and what he believes to be censoring.

Perhaps because of this, Ramasway and billionaire Elon Musk have become fast friends, with Ramasway even saying,

He and I are increasingly alone in this world as being free speech absolutists, and that I think is different from a lot of people in both parties. I think that’s something he and I see eye to eye on.

Ramaswamy had even told supporters at one of his campaign events in Iowa that he expects Musk to be an advisor for him, and Musk, in turn, said that Ramaswamy is a promising candidate in the 2024 elections.

Proverbial Punching Bag

His campaign journey hasn’t always been full of friends, as seen at the previous two GOP debates. Ramaswamy seemed to be wearing a target on his back and swatted off multiple vicious jabs from fellow candidates, especially former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie had quipped, “I’ve had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT standing up here,” as well as calling Ramaswamy a skinny Barack Obama.  

Former Vice President Mike Pence also had his turn saying, “We don’t need to bring in a rookie.” Even Nikki Hayley had something to say to him, “Honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber.”   

Like water off of a duck’s back, Ramaswamy brushed off their remarks and focused on getting votes. Mike Pence recently announced he was ending his run for president, and so, like Andrew Yang, Ramaswamy is already outlasting more veteran and experienced politicians by appealing to voters with fresh language and non-canned talking points.   

Current Performace in the polls

For a newcomer with no political experience, Ramaswamy saw a rise in support mainly thanks to his bold campaign tactics. This meant appearing in as many interviews and podcasts as possible to spread his message. While other candidates like Christie and DeSantis may be battling with dwindling campaign funds, Ramaswamy shared that after the first GOP debate, his campaign had raised $450,000.  

Currently, in a poll shared by FiveThirtyEight, Ramaswamy is sitting in fourth place with a 5.8 percent approval rate. Hayley has an 8.0 percent, DeSantis is at 14.1 percent, and Trump leads with 56.9 percent. In Ohio, his birth state, Ramaswamy is sitting in second place behind Trump with a 12 percent approval rating and DeSantis just behind him with 9 percent.

Position on Israel

However, there is a new concern about whether this rise in support will last after his latest comments about the Israel-Gaza war. Ramaswamy’s campaign has always taken a rather isolationist approach to foreign policy saying that America should get out of the Ukraine war. He has criticized the U.S in aiding Israel, announcing that Israel can handle herself, but just recently, Ramaswamy changed his tone going full blow NeoCon by saying,

I would love nothing more than for the IDF to put the heads of the top 100 Hamas leaders on stakes and line them up on the Israel-Gaza border.

This abrupt shift in foreign policy that opens up the door to the forever wars the GOP base is bucking against is a jarring position change.

Fellow candidate Hayley had butted heads with Ramasway after she remarked that Israel should carry out an attack and finish Hamas. Ramaswamy had disagreed with her, claiming, “This is the real world, not a video game.” yet now, he’s gone and done the same thing. Does this turn off his voters if he’s now a skinny Obama version of bloodthirsty Nikki Haley? 

Future Path

Ramaswamy’s performance in the polls is an impressive feat for someone with no previous political background while being up against some fierce competitors. He’s already outlasted a former Vice President of the United States. Is Ramaswamy’s success just a case of beginner’s luck and controversial opinions on policies and will it be enough to carry him through to Iowa and beyond? With no real shot of winning, Ramaswamy seems more like a Trump proxy at the debates, or perhaps like Yang, this is all a cleverly executed move to launch a successful political career. As we’re nearing the third GOP debate on Nov. 8, Ramaswamy will have another chance to convince his rivals and supporters he’s a candidate to keep an eye on. Donald Trump has a huge, seemingly insurmountable lead. The next debate will give Ramaswamy, DeSantis, and Hayley a chance to fight for who is the best alternate.