DES MOINES — Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy says some college student groups have made atrocious statements in support of Hamas terrorists who attacked Israel this month, but the answer isn’t to blacklist students.
“They’re students. Sometimes they do silly things. They do dumb things,” Ramaswamy says. “That’s part of what maturation in college is all about.”
Ramaswamy says companies have a right to decide not to hire those students, but Ramaswamy says, as a free speech advocate, he believes it would be more productive to have a conversation with those students. “I think the right answer to bad speech, especially on a college campus, isn’t suppressing that. it’s more speech,” Ramaswamy says. “It’s actually showing why those ideas are wrong.”
Ramaswamy, a critic of cancel culture, has spent more time campaigning in Iowa than his primary Republican rivals. One of his leading proposals is a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the voting age to 25 — with exceptions for young adults who enter the military, work as a first responder or take the test immigrants take to become citizens. Ramaswamy says if that policy had been in force in 2003 — when he turned 18 — he may have become “far more engaged” in politics.
Ramaswamy, who is 38, told the Wall Street Journal he has cast ballots in two presidential elections — voting for a libertarian in 2004 and voting forTrump in 2020. “Keep in mind that when the voting age was lowered to 18, it was in the context of the draft for the Vietnam War and so that made immense sense at that time,” Ramaswamy says. “Today, we don’t have a draft, but I do think that we have also lost our sense of civic duty.”
Ramaswamy says his proposed constitutional amendment would make citizenship mean something. Ramaswamy calls Donald Trump the best president of the 21st century, but he suggests it’s time for the GOP to choose a younger nominee in 2024. “How are we going to reunite this country and take our ‘America First’ agenda even further? And I think it’s going to take a member of the different generation to do it,” Ramaswamy says. “…I’m young. I have fresh legs. I can reach that next generation and I am reaching that next generation more so than any other candidate in this race.”
Ramaswamy, a former hedge fund analyst, is the founder of companies focused on the development of prescription drugs. Ramaswamy has so far used about $15 million of his own money on his campaign. After the first two televised debates, Ramaswamy saw an increase in donations of less than $200 from individuals. He got $2.8 million in campaign contributions from that group of donors in the last fundraising quarter.