Vivek Ramaswamy, a 37-year-old entrepreneur and author running for president as a Republican, has never run for elective office before, but he has clearly picked up the art of the stump speech. Here are five of his most reliable applause lines over a few days on the trail in New Hampshire.
“I will be the first presidential candidate to say I will end race-based affirmative action.”
It is a questionable assertion, because Ben Carson made ending affirmative action central to his 2016 campaign. But to the overwhelmingly white audiences that Mr. Ramaswamy, the son of Indian immigrants, is addressing, the promise goes over well. It fits in with his broader criticism of group identity and of the praise for diversity that is fundamental to liberal politics. But his pledge to end racial preferences by executive order could be more complicated than he makes it sound.
“I will shut down the fourth branch of government, the administrative state. You cannot tame that beast. You must end it.”
Mr. Ramaswamy insists that he will go much further than former President Donald J. Trump did to “drain the swamp” of the “Deep State.” And he says he will do it unilaterally, ending Civil Service protections by executive order, imposing eight-year term limits on federal positions, shuttering the Education Department and replacing the F.B.I., the I.R.S., and other agencies. The notion that “those elected to government should actually run the government” is central to his campaign, which demonizes the unelected bureaucracy that he says runs Washington.
“We will use our military to annihilate the Mexican drug cartels.”
While in Keene, N.H., on Wednesday, Mr. Ramaswamy mused about using a local precision-weapons plant to elaborate on his threat of military action against organized crime across the southern border in Mexico. Never mind that such a strike would be against a U.S. ally and neighbor. Mr. Trump made similar threats but never carried them out. And Mr. Ramaswamy has conceded that among some libertarian-minded voters, the promise sounds disconcertingly bellicose.
“How about a constitutional amendment to make the voting age 25, but you can still vote at 18 if you serve the country or pass the civics test my mother passed to become a citizen?”
The proposal might not win the hearts of Generation Z, but it appeals to older Republican primary voters who believe the country has lost its sense of citizenship and purpose. It might also resonate with those who understand how lopsided the youth vote is in favor of Democrats.
“Today we depend on our main enemy for our entire modern way of life. That is a problem. The Declaration of Independence that I will sign as your next president will be our Declaration of Independence from Communist China.”
Mr. Ramaswamy says confronting China would be his top foreign policy priority, and it will entail short-term pain. He would prevent American businesses from expanding into Chinese markets unless “our demands are met” by Beijing. Those include more intellectual property protections and an end to required joint ventures with state-controlled businesses. Unwinding consumer dependence on China would be difficult and economically distressing, he concedes, but he said the endeavor would be the essence of citizen sacrifice and would forge national unity.
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