Vivek Ramaswamy backs calls from the GOP’s right flank

WASHINGTON — Vivek Ramaswamy has positioned himself as the Trump-loving GOP candidate who embraces meritocracy and “anti-wokeness” on the campaign trail, but some of the businessman’s latest comments might not fare well with more moderate Republican voters.

Ramaswamy, who has scored third in some GOP primary national polls, has set himself apart from other 2024 candidates as the son of Indian immigrants who’s founded multi-billion dollar companies, written several books and is hitting the campaign trail with no political experience.

But Ramaswamy’s stances on certain issues, such as racial justice and the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack, have drawn scrutiny among his rivals, and even some voters.

During a campaign event in Iowa last week, for example, Ramaswamy called Juneteenth a “useless” holiday, even though he posted a video less than two months ago honoring it, as NBC News first reported.

Juneteenth recognizes and celebrates the day that Black Americans were emancipated from slavery.

Likewise, after former President Donald Trump’s recent indictment on his alleged push to overturn the 2020 election, Ramaswamy targeted federal officials, a common reaction among Trump’s Republican allies.

Here’s a closer look at some of Ramaswamy’s recent remarks on the campaign trail and how he’s echoing calls from the GOP’s right flank.

Ramaswamy champions meritocracy, calls Juneteenth “useless”

Ramaswamy told USA TODAY last month that racial minorities are often led into embracing “victimhood,” and he has repeatedly championed meritocracy and hard work on the campaign trail.

He has maintained that viewpoint when it comes to Juneteenth.

In a social media post shared on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, less than two months ago, Ramaswamy said Juneteenth was the celebration of how far the nation has come and how people can advance through hard work and dedication.

“We don’t just look back and flog ourselves,” he said.

In a town hall last month, however, he said that he didn’t think Juneteenth should be a national holiday.

During a campaign event in Iowa, Ramaswamy went further and said that Juneteenth was “useless” and suggested canceling the holiday, NBC News reported.

2024 GOP candidate Will Hurd, one of Ramaswamy’s rivals, criticized Ramaswamy for saying he “hopes to cancel a holiday that celebrates equality and freedom,” according to the outlet.

“His gimmicks and shtick aren’t serious,” Hurd said.

Ramaswamy targets officials over Trump indictments

After Trump was arraigned last week in a federal courthouse, Ramaswamy said during an event in New Hampshire he would fire everyone in the government who was involved with Trump’s prosecution.

And Ramaswamy previously said he would shut down the FBI and replace it with a similar institution, a move experts warn could create chaos.

“I think the FBI as an institution should not exist,” Ramaswamy told USA TODAY. “I think that that is far more practical than it sounds…I do not believe that an institution that entrenched in its culture and way of operating can be reformed.”

Ramaswamy’s recent comments came after he suggested on multiple occasions that Trump’s indictments are politically motivated. There is no evidence that federal or state officials handling cases against Trump have sought to target his reelection bid.

Dodging Jan. 6 questions

Ramaswamy has also appeared to dodge harsher criticism of Trump on the campaign trail.

Trump was charged last week with a conspiracy to obstruct a congressional proceeding on Jan. 6, 2021, as the results of the 2020 election were to be certified.

On the same day Trump was indicted, Ramaswamy was asked whether he would have certified the election results like former Vice President Mike Pence did, a question that Ramaswamy did not answer directly, according to Politico.

“I would have never let it get to that point,” Ramaswamy told the outlet. “I would have never put myself — or been part of an administration, if I was in a serious position of leadership — to ever have allowed us to have gotten to that doorstep.”

He again said “we would have never been in that position” when asked whether he would have sought to stop Trump’s alleged efforts to steal the 2020 election, Politico reported.

Ramaswamy previously told USA TODAY that censorship was responsible for the Jan. 6 attack, refusing to pin responsibility on Trump. He also said he would pardon Trump if elected to the White House.

However, he did acknowledge that he would have handled Jan. 6 differently than Trump and that he has not seen any evidence of ballot fraud on a scale that would have changed the electoral outcome.

Ramaswamy didn’t directly comment on his latest remarks to USA TODAY, but instead said that he would support a single Election Day where people can vote, along with other measures Trump has supported, such as using paper ballots.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vivek Ramaswamy pushes right, targets Juneteenth, Trump indictments

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