Lemon-squeezing Ramaswamy says he’s eager for more debate

Lemon-squeezing Ramaswamy says he’s eager for more debate

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, shown speaking recently in Iowa, is considered a longshot candidate for the White House. He says allowing him on the GOP debate stage improves discussions about issues that are important to voters. 

Lemon-squeezing Ramaswamy says he’s eager for more debate

Vivek Ramaswamy may be best known as the guest who got Don Lemon fired from CNN but the presidential candidate, considered to be a White House long shot by many, could become a name to watch in coming weeks and months.

A memo from Ben Yoho, the CEO of Ramaswamy’s campaign, projects rapid growth for the candidate to the point that by early 2024 he supplants Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as Donald Trump’s top challenger in the primaries.

“By early 2024 GOP Primary voters will have a clear choice between President Trump and the memories of America First 1.0 or Vivek Ramaswamy and the promise of America First 2.0,” Yoho states.

Trump criticized for ignoring debate like he's an incumbent

Chris Woodward, AFN.net

Donald Trump is being both defended and criticized for stating he will refuse to join other Republican candidates on the debate stage later this year.

In a statement on social media, Trump said "NO!" to the planned RNC debate in August. In his typical rambling style, the former president criticized the Republican National Committee for failing to get his approval, and he questioned why he should debate since he’s leading in the polls with “insurmountable numbers.”

Wildmon, Walker (AFA VP operations) Wildmon

Walker Wildmon, speaking for AFA Action, tells AFN that Trump is right to criticize past debates for their left-leaning moderators and biased questions. It is also true that true right-leaning news outlets should be participating, he added.

"The reality is [Trump] is not an incumbent. He is running for the White House just like everybody else is, and they are going to have to debate,” Wildmon observes. “The American public is going to expect these candidates to get on the stage and hash it out and fight it out. So to think that Trump can just not show up at any debates, I just do not think that is a plausible campaign position."

Editor's Note: AFA Action is an affiliate of the American Family Association, the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.

The back-patting memo suggests DeSantis - who hasn't declared a White House run - has run a “fumbling, mistake-riddled campaign” compared to Ramaswamy’s energetic, consistent message that he communicates with a modern-day approach through a daily podcast and “vast digital presence.”

Ramaswamy has also shown willingness to engage those with opposing viewpoints, such as Lemon, on their turf.

Ramaswamy presents himself as an “America First” candidate who mirrors Donald Trump's 2016 campaign with an ability to develop that theme better than Trump did.

“Donald Trump today is not the same Donald Trump as in 2015. I respected the outsider version of Trump, who in 2015 was actually the guy who made it happen on the debate stage. He really shined, and that's what gave the voters and the movement, the America first movement, the fuel that it did to go the distance,” Ramaswamy said on American Family Radio Wednesday. “But you only get to be an outsider once. I'm the outsider in this race and I'm doing the same thing this time around taking that America first agenda even further.”

He added this to show host Jenna Ellis: “I don’t think the other candidates, including Trump, are going to enjoy being on that debate stage with me.”

Indeed, Ramaswamy more than held his own against Lemon, confidently presenting his belief in the Second Amendment as key in helping secure rights for blacks in post-Civil War America.

In fact, Ramaswamy’s performance may have been the key factor in CNN’s decision to move on from Lemon.

'Uncomfortable' on CNN set

In the radio interview, Ramaswamy told Ellis it was “uncomfortable” being on the set for that exchange.

“I think this was the final straw that broke their camel's back, and I think it's a good thing for the country when you don't have a TV host like Don Lemon claiming to host open debate while shutting it down when he's losing in that debate by saying that I can't say something or a guest can't say something unless they're black,” Ramaswamy said.

Lemon and popular Fox host Tucker Carlson were actually fired on the same day. Ironically, left-leaning Lemon and conservative Carlson have found common ground by hiring the same attorney to handle their departures from the respective networks.

With the first GOP debate set four months from now, in August in Milwaukee, Ramaswamy has hurdles to clear if he’s going to prove his belief that he could do equally well in a presidential debate with other candidates. One, his prominence on a debate stage could depend greatly on the level of support for his campaign.

Two, Trump on Tuesday in a post on his social media platform Truth Social implied he may not be part of the debates.

Ramaswamy addressed the first hurdle with a call to action for $1 donors. The reason for asking for lots of $1 donors, he explained, is because the number of so-called "unique donors" is one formula that is used to set up the debate stage. 

"We have to build that from scratch, and I think our party and our movement will be better off for it no matter who you support,” Ramaswamy said. “You saw me with Don Lemon. I’ll go with Chuck Todd toe to toe on NBC or any other network. I will take the debate to the Left and win.”

Ramaswamy believes debate is important to expose American voters to different ideas and that all candidates – even a former president – should participate.

“This isn't about Trump, or it shouldn't be. It should be about our country. America first does not belong to one Man. America first does not belong to Donald Trump. It doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the people of this country. That's who it belongs to. And we need to keep that straight in our mind,” Ramaswamy said.

Debate would be good for different proposals

If elected, Ramaswamy says he will end race-based affirmative action.

“That's something that the U.S. president can do. Trump or the other candidates have not touched that because that's a politically fraught topic,” Ramaswamy said.

He’s also called for an end to the climate change agenda and for shutting down government agencies he says are ineffective. He has specifically mentioned the FBI, IRS and Department of Education among others.

“Those are the ideas we need to actually debate because then we can go further with the America First agenda than we ever have,” Ramaswamy said. “I’ll say it again: America First does not belong to one man. It belongs to all of us, the people of this country, and that is why that debate stage is so important.”