Former President Donald Trump took aim at Republican rival Vivek Ramaswamy over the weekend, labeling him a charlatan who could threaten the Make America Great Again movement. The attack signals that Trump could see Vivek cutting into his lead in Iowa just days before the first contest of 2024.
Many major supporters of Trump have heaped praise on Ramaswamy because of his performances in the debates against other GOP rivals. The tech millionaire often put his sights on Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis while praising the former president after Trump decided not to debate.
“Vote for ‘TRUMP,’ don’t waste your vote! Vivek is not MAGA,” Trump said as he arrived in Iowa on Saturday night. The comments, which appeared in a social media post, ended what had been an informal marriage of convenience with the 38-year-old Ohio entrepreneur and first-time political candidate.
Iowans on Monday will cast the first votes in the 2024 presidential nominating process during a caucus that’s likely to show depressed turnout because of historically frigid weather. Trump, who is kicking off his in-person pre-caucus push on Saturday with a virtual event at 7:30 p.m. New York time, continues to lead the field by an average of 34 percentage points.
An Iowa State University/Civiqs poll this week found that Ramaswamy was getting only 8% support but was the second choice of 30% of Iowa Republicans. Ramaswamy has campaigned aggressively in the state, visiting all 99 counties at least twice in a feat he called the “Double Grassley” after Iowa’s senior senator.
“Vivek started his campaign as a great supporter,” Trump told followers on his platform Truth Social. “Unfortunately, now all he does is disguise his support in the form of deceitful campaign tricks. Very sly, but a vote for Vivek is a vote for the ‘other side’ — don’t get duped by this.”
Vivek, as he often has throughout the campaign, took to Twitter to respond to the Trump thrashing.
I’ve defended Trump at every step & respect him immensely. You won’t hear me attacking him. I’m asking for your vote tonight because I believe it’s the right thing for our country. We cannot walk into the other side’s trap & watch the puppet masters quietly trot Nikki into power. pic.twitter.com/E1gM5ydrXW
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) January 15, 2024
During an interview on Fox News, Ramaswamy was asked why Trump “threw him under the bus over the weekend.” by “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy.
“Well, I didn’t get thrown anywhere, but I think there might have been an attempt to do that,” he responded. “I took it in a lighthearted way, but the truth is that people have to have their heads stuck in the snow not to see what’s happening on the ground here. I know the mainstream media is ignoring it, but there has been a massive surge here late in the process.”
Iowans will be heading to the caucuses tonight in an event that will likely shape the rest of the campaign.