Vivek Ramaswamy: 20-year-old video falls on Republicans’ feet

US primary campaign
Criticism of lack of political experience: Ramaswamy falls on his feet 20-year-old video

Vivek Ramaswamy wants to run for the US Republicans in the White House, although he has never held political office

© Scott Olson/Getty Images

Vivek Ramaswamy is considered eloquent. That was the Republican presidential candidate as a young man, as an old video clip shows. Nevertheless, his words from back then now cause ridicule.

At just 38, Vivek Ramaswamy is the youngest candidate in the race for the 2024 US presidency – and the least experienced when it comes to politics. The son of Indian immigrants is a pharmaceutical entrepreneur who has made a fortune with several biotech companies developing drugs. However, he has never held a political office.

Even more uncomfortable for Ramaswamy is a video clip posted on August 18 by an obscure account with just a handful of followers on X, formerly known as Twitter, that has been making the rounds on social media since Monday. The clip shows a scene from the MSNBC talk show “Hardball” from October 27, 2003. The show features civil rights activist and pastor Al Sharpton, who at the time is running for the Democratic presidential nomination along with Senators John Edwards and John Kerry .

Vivek Ramaswamy poses critical question to Al Sharpton

The then 18-year-old Vivek Ramaswamy was also in the audience, which was able to take part in the program with questions. A good seven minutes into the show, he confronts Sharpton about his lack of background as a civil servant:

Ramaswamy: “Reverend Sharpton, hello, I’m Vivek and I want to ask you, last week we had Senator Kerry on the show and the week before that we had Senator Edwards. And my question to you is, of all the Democratic candidates, why would I vote for the one who has the least political experience?”

Sharpton: “Well, you shouldn’t, because I have the most political experience.”

(audience laughter)

Sharpton: “I started getting involved in politics when I was 12 and I’ve been involved in social policy for the past 30 years, so don’t confuse people who have a job with political experience.”

Ramaswamy himself endured many attacks during the first Republican presidential debate, mainly because of his youth and lack of a political background. Former Vice President Mike Pence called the 38-year-old a “rookie,” while former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called him an “amateur.”

“The irony is beautiful,” commented a user on the “Hardball” excerpt. “Did he ever think he’d have to ask himself that question? Destiny is a crazy thing,” scoffed another.

And Ramaswamy himself has now responded to the video: “I pat the 18-year-old version of myself on the back for eliciting the most reasonable words from this man that ever came out of his mouth,” countered the Republican. “20 years later, it’s funny how the tide has turned.”

Ramaswamy might find it less funny how Al Sharpton’s application went on at the time: After a poor performance in the primary elections in South Carolina, the civil rights activist gave up his ambitions for the White House.

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