(NewsNation) — Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy launched his long-shot bid for the White House in February, and six months later, he was standing in the middle of the stage for the first Republican primary debate.
At 38 years old, he’s the youngest candidate in the GOP field and has built a campaign around wanting to “revive” a “missing national identity” and further an “America First” agenda first ushered in by his rival and current GOP front-runner, former President Donald Trump.
Born in Cincinnati to Indian immigrant parents, Ramaswamy went to Harvard and later Yale Law School. In 2014, he founded biotech company Roivant Sciences, a publicly traded company now worth more than $7 billion. He is also the co-founder and executive chairman of investment firm Strive Asset Management. Forbes estimates his net worth is at least $630 million.
After seeing a surge in polls following the first primary debate, Ramaswamy has slid back behind other GOP candidates heading into the start of the primary season, which kicks off in January in Iowa.
Ahead of the 2024 election, NewsNation is committed to covering the issues that matter most to voters so they can make the most informed choices possible at the polls.
Here’s a look at Ramaswamy’s policy positions and political views as he competes for your vote:
Violent crime and mental health
- Suggests bringing back “involuntary commitment” in psychiatric institutions as a way to combat increases in violent crime
- Suggests withholding federal funding from cities that “refuse to protect Americans from violent crime”
- Said during his standout moment at the first GOP debate he would add more police officers and make it harder to sue them
- Says he will shut down the FBI and redistribute funds and personnel to other agencies, including the Secret Service
Guns, calls for ATF shutdown
- Ramaswamy has labeled himself a “Second Amendment absolutist” and says convicted felons should be allowed to carry guns.
- He also called for a shutdown of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the stated purpose of which is to protect “our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products.”
Border crisis and immigration
- Describes the southern U.S. border with Mexico as “Swiss cheese” and criticizes the Biden administration for not doing more to stem the flow of fentanyl
- During a visit to the border, drew parallels to Israel, calling the flow of illegal immigrants a threat to national security
- Like some other Republicans, suggests the United States should consider sending troops to the border
- Similar to Trump, suggests ending birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants
- Supports the Remain in Mexico immigration policy first enacted under Trump
Stance on Israel and Palestine, the war in Ukraine
- Opposes full-fledged support for the war in Ukraine and frequently calls out “neocons” (neoconservatives) for supporting wars in general, including GOP contender Nikki Haley
- At a NewsNation town hall in August, he said he’d make a “deal” with Russian President Vladimir Putin if elected to end the war in Ukraine and called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “fraud.”
- After the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Ramaswamy urged a “cool-headed” response to avoid the situation devolving into a larger regional conflict.
- Condemned the attack by Hamas but said the United States needs to carefully consider what actions it takes in the region
China’s aggression, TikTok and ‘opium war’
- Proposed a foreign policy that includes a “decouple from Communist China” by negotiating new trade deals, growing the industrial defense base and supporting Taiwanese and domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
- When he unveiled his foreign policy platform, Ramaswamy said the United States should lean on allies in the region like India and Japan to increase their own defense budgets to counter China’s military aggression.
- Speaking at the Iowa State Fair earlier this summer, Ramaswamy railed against China’s role in the opioid epidemic in the United States, calling it a “modern Opium War.” Chinese manufacturers produce some of the precursors used to create fentanyl.
- Uses TikTok to reach young voters but says kids 16 and under shouldn’t use “addictive” social media
Education and civics test
- Suggests young American citizens between 18 and 24 should have to pass a civics test in order to vote, similar to the one taken by those going through the naturalization process
- Calls for the elimination of many federal agencies, including the Education Department, and instead send the department’s $80 billion in funding back to the localities
- At a New Hampshire town hall in October hosted by the USA TODAY Network, he argued that education decisions should be in the hands of parents and not government agencies.
- Rails against what he calls “woke culture,” which he says has “infected” schools and led to the indoctrination of children
Child care availability and costs
- Ramaswamy says the “nuclear family” is key to success — defining families in traditional terms as a mother and father raising their children
- Describes the CHIPS Act requirement that companies receiving federal funds provide child care for workers as an “interesting feature,” but it’s not clear if it was a comment in favor of or against the policy
- Does not support a federal ban on the procedure, according to NPR
- However, has indicated support for six-week bans that have been enacted in many Republican states
- Supports exceptions in abortion ban for cases involving rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in danger, Reuters reported
- He shared for the first time publicly at an Iowa event that his wife suffered a miscarriage during her first pregnancy. Now, the couple has two kids, and he said, “When you bring life into this world, you protect all life, born and unborn.”
Fentanyl crisis, opioid epidemic
- Accuses Mexico’s leader of treating drug cartels as his “sugar daddy” and says that if he is elected president, “there will be a new daddy in town”
- Describes the fentanyl epidemic as “poisonings” and “closer to bioterrorism” at the third Republican debate
- Suggests using military force to “annihilate the Mexican drug cartels”
- The entrepreneur with a background in biology suggests “climate change agenda” is a “hoax” and favors the use of natural gas, nuclear and coal energy.
- If elected, Ramaswamy would pull out of the Paris Climate Accords that set carbon emission cap goals.
- Suggested at the third GOP debate that he’d save the Social Security program from becoming insolvent through drastic spending cuts and reductions in the federal workforce
- Suggests cutting the federal workforce in half by firing each employee whose Social Security number ends in an odd number
Economy and inflation
- Ramaswamy’s economic platform is built around his desire to “unleash the American economy” and achieve a growth of the gross domestic product by more than 5%.
- Calls for reforming the Federal Reserve by cutting 90% of its headcount and changing its mandate to “stabilizing the U.S. dollar as a reliable unit of measurement”
- He released a plan for cryptocurrency that calls for repeals of Securities and Exchange Commission regulations and a path for the digital tokens to be considered commodities.
An estimated 42 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet, creating challenges for both students and teachers in rural school districts across the country.
- Ramaswamy has not said much about rural infrastructure development.