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Vivek Ramaswamy Explains How He’ll Defeat Donald Trump
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Vivek Ramaswamy Explains How He’ll Defeat Donald Trump

Plus: A China policy that would irk both wings of the GOP.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at the Family Leadership Summit on July 14, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Happy Friday! Will you be seeing Barbie or Oppenheimer this weekend? Or will it be a #Barbenheimer double feature? Sen. Katie Boyd Britt, Republican from Alabama, got into the spirit of celebrating the dueling event movies of the summer on Twitter.

Up to Speed

  • Federal Judge Aileen Cannon has set May 20, 2024, as the date to start former President Donald Trump’s classified-documents trial. That’s nearly two months after the start date for Trump’s trial in New York, and well after several of the 2024 presidential primaries—only six states and the District of Columbia have scheduled their nominating contests after May 20.
  • Are Joe Biden and Democrats at risk of having significant amounts of the Generation Z vote simply not show up in 2024? Democratic pollster John Della Volpe has warned the Biden campaign about this, Politico reports, and it’s his belief voters under 30 are becoming jaded about participating in electoral politics. “I feel like it’s a responsibility to ring this alarm now, when there’s time to do something about it,” Della Volpe tells Politico. “These voters gotta buy into the values of the party and the candidates … and to appreciate the fact that politics can make a difference. You can’t do that in a full-week ad buy after Labor Day.”
  • After declining to run for Senate in 2022 and declining to join the GOP presidential race in June, New Hampshire’s popular Republican Gov. Chris Sununu announced Wednesday he won’t run for reelection. “Public service should never be a career, and the time is right for another Republican to lead our great state,” he tweeted. Sununu will remain governor of the key presidential primary state until January 2025. “I’m gonna be an aggressive proponent of everybody else” besides Trump, Sununu added on Thursday. “He’s yesterday’s news.”
  • On Wednesday, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie criticized fellow GOP presidential hopeful Florida Gov. Ron Desantis for saying it’s “possible” the FBI or DOJ might interfere with his campaign. “If Ron DeSantis is concerned that there’s something in his background that would lead the DOJ or the FBI to be looking at him, that’s probably something he should talk to us all about,” said Christie. “Otherwise, stop speculating about this stuff.”
  • After stepping down from House leadership last year, there are whispers about whether Nancy Pelosi intends to keep her seat, according to Politico. The former speaker raised $3.5 million during the first half of this year, but she’s left Democrats unsure of her electoral plans. “The rules of engagement for the average politician just do not apply to Nancy Pelosi,” said Todd David, an adviser to California State Sen. Scott Wiener, a potential successor to Pelosi. “She has earned the right and the privilege to do things on her own timeline.” 
  • Alabama Democrats are protesting congressional maps passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, arguing they defy a federal court order to create two districts with close to a majority black voting-age population. Alabama State Rep. Chris Pringle, the Republican sponsor of the House map under consideration, said he believes “in my heart of hearts” that his map complies with the Voting Rights Act. The federal court’s three-judge panel could reject the legislature’s maps and draw its own plan if the court determines lawmakers did not comply with its order, according to the Washington Post.

‘Going Further Than Trump’: Ramaswamy Reveals Plan to Defeat Frontrunner

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia—Vivek Ramaswamy is boldly predicting victory in the Republican primary, saying he’ll win by dethroning Donald Trump among grassroots conservatives presumed to constitute the bedrock of the former president’s loyal voting base.

“At this point, I actually expect to be the nominee. I couldn’t have told you that in February or March. But that’s my conviction today,” the 37-year-old, wealthy biotechnology entrepreneur from Ohio says. Ramaswamy’s strategy? “Persuasion. I believe that human beings are not animals; and we are subject to a thing that probably the last president to use it was [Ronald] Reagan—to actually persuade people to believe something different than they once believed.”

The underdog White House hopeful offered his audacious theory of the case Wednesday during an intimate lunch with a handful of journalists just across the Potomac River from Washington. Ramaswamy, so far running a presidential campaign financed primarily by his vast personal fortune, says he’s willing to spend $100 million of his own money to see his plan through, although that sum is not a hard cap. “That wouldn’t be crazy,” he says of spending even more of his own cash. 

What sets Ramaswamy apart from his Republican competitors is that his blueprint for capturing the nomination rests largely on supplanting Trump as the first choice of voters who have stuck with the ousted 45th president through thick and thin—who don’t seem to care he would be a lame duck on Day 1 of a second term. (The “thin” has included: two impeachments; two indictments; culpability for January 6, 2021; and leading the GOP to three consecutive disappointing finishes in national elections.)

Ramaswamy says he is confident he can “persuade” Trump loyalists to jump ship and join his campaign for three reasons: He believes he is a more authentic version of what the former president represents to the voters who back him; he believes voters who support Trump do so more so out of their strong connection to the populist political movement the former president has coalesced than personal fidelity; and he believes these voters will ultimately concludes he is more electable.

“I am actually going further than Trump did. Not Trump light, not Trump without the drama. No; I’m going outright further than Trump did with George Washington, America First principles,” Ramaswamy says. 

“The second thing is,” he adds, “I don’t believe that MAGA belongs to me. I don’t believe that America First belongs to me, I don’t think it belongs to Trump. I think it belongs to you. People are very responsive to that. Because I think that they recognize that their allegiance is to a movement and there is a man who now behaves as though that movement belongs to him.” 

Finally, here’s Ramaswamy explaining his electability argument: There’s no denying that a third of this country becomes mentally deranged and unhinged when Donald Trump speaks. It’s just a fact, we’ve all seen it. Right? They will disagree with things that they otherwise would have agreed with … I don’t have that effect on people—and I think people believe that I don’t have that effect on people.”

Five weeks before the first televised Republican debate, Trump remains an overwhelming frontrunner, garnering 53.1 percent in national polling averages. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is holding steady in second, with 20.4 percent. 

Ramaswamy receives a meager 5 percent support. But the first-time candidate has inched his way into fourth, past former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. Ramaswamy narrowly trails former Vice President Mike Pence (5.7 percent.) But where most other Republicans are angling to win by dominating among GOP voters ready to move on from the former president, Ramaswamy aims to supplant Trump by hijacking his coalition.

Ramaswamy’s radical China policy

Meanwhile, Ramaswamy elaborated on his strategy for containing China, which on the surface reads like boilerplate GOP talking-points about addressing the economic and military threat posed by an expansionist Beijing. Just about every leading (and minor) Republican contender is similarly focused. However, Ramaswamy is proposing strategies that traditional Republicans and populist Trump supporters alike might find troubling.

For instance: Ramaswamy supports bolstering Taiwan’s defenses through diplomatic, economic, and military steps that help the island democracy defend against a potential invasion by China. But he said preventing a Chinese military takeover would cease to be an American national security priority once the U.S. achieves “semiconductor independence.” In other words, once the U.S. does not rely on Taipei for the manufacturing of computer microchips, Ramaswamy’s approach would change, possibly to Beijing’s benefit.   

“I know this is a little uncouth to say,” Ramaswamy says. “Once we have truly achieved semiconductor independence, I think the calculus changes.” Does that mean the U.S. would no longer care either way whether China took over Taiwan by military force? “We care a lot less, yeah; we care a lot less. What I’m willing to do in that scenario is very different.” Those comments could ruffle the feathers of traditional Republicans, who tend to favor U.S. support for fellow democracies.

Simultaneously, Ramaswamy’s economic strategy for containing China could upset conservative populists. That’s because he supports entering the U.S. into a free-trade agreement with Asia Pacific nations similar to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by President Barack Obama—and nixed by Trump after he was elected in 2016. The Trans-Pacific Partnership was intended to counter China and pull the communist nation’s neighbors into closer alliances with the U.S. 

Many of the nations involved later formed a free trade bloc without Washington, the Comprehensive Agreement Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Rasmaswamy says he believes having the U.S. join them would be an effective economic component of a comprehensive strategy to contain China. “I would do it in the first six months, actually,” Ramaswamy says. “I’ll use the fact that Trump exited the TPP to extract better concessions.”

“I’m not an anti-free trade, industrial policy, domestic-industry coddling guy,” he adds.

Notable and Quotable

“No, but people have suggested it … There are a lot of people suggesting it, there’s no question about that.”

—Donald Trump, when asked by Newsmax host Rob Schmitt if he has considered having Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., as his running mate, Thursday, July 20

David M. Drucker is a senior writer at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he was a senior correspondent for the Washington Examiner. When Drucker is not covering American politics for The Dispatch, he enjoys hanging out with his two boys and listening to his wife's excellent taste in music.

Michael Warren is a senior editor at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he was an on-air reporter at CNN and a senior writer at the Weekly Standard. When Mike is not reporting, writing, editing, and podcasting, he is probably spending time with his wife and three sons.

Thomas Dorsey is an intern for The Dispatch.