Vivek Ramaswamy: Donald Trump’s Unpaid Assassin

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Vivek Ramaswamy’s presidential campaign just ended. But he already has a new role in the race: Unpaid assassin for the Trump campaign.

Just days after claiming that Trump’s enemies would make it impossible for him to return to the White House, Ramaswamy is doing everything in his power to make it happen. The first-time candidate has already appeared by Trump’s side at a rally and gone on TV to demand his opponents drop out of the contest. Some in the Trump orbit are praising him as a “breakout star.”

Ramaswamy’s former campaign staffers have even taken it upon themselves to join the mission and troll a Trump rival on the New Hampshire campaign trail.

The transition from Trump rival to Trump promoter has been fast, if unsurprising. The 38-year-old rookie candidate ran his campaign in Trump’s image, calling Trump the best president of the 21st century and promising to implement the former president’s policies and put “America First.” By the time Iowa caucus night rolled around, Ramaswamy’s supporters were decked out in “SAVE TRUMP, VOTE VIVEK” T-shirts.

A week later, the message is just “VOTE TRUMP.”

“We are in the middle of a war in this country,” Ramaswamy said, standing by Trump’s side in New Hampshire just 24 hours after ending his bid on Iowa caucus night. “It’s between the permanent state and the everyday citizen.”

“We need a commander-in-chief who will lead us to victory in this war,” Ramaswamy continued.

Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at a campaign stop at the Hampton Inn & Suites Sioux City South on January 08, 2024 in Sioux City, Iowa.
Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at a campaign stop at the Hampton Inn & Suites Sioux City South on January 08, 2024 in Sioux City, Iowa.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

His first marching orders seemed to be pushing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley out of the primary, saying that Iowa Republicans sent a “message” on caucus night.

“Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley would actually, at this point, do this country and this party a service by stepping aside,” Ramaswamy said on Fox News. “It’s time to actually make sure we elect the right president.”

Ramaswamy spent some $30 million on his failed campaign to claim the MAGA mantle from the former president who coined the term. In the end, he came in fourth in the Iowa caucus, earning 8% of the vote. Trump won with 51%, DeSantis had 21% and Haley received 19%.

Ramaswamy was on the receiving end of a few Trump punches at the end of the race, like when the former president claimed Ramaswamy was “sly,” “deceitful” and “NOT MAGA” for running against him. Trump’s advisers knocked down speculation that Ramaswamy could be vice president, too.

But after he dropped out and made an endorsement, Trump had kinder words: “He has a big beautiful bright future ahead,” Trump said of Ramaswamy at his New Hampshire rally this week.

“I think he can be an incredible addition to the Trump campaign and the Trump administration,” said Stefan Mychajliw, who worked on Ramaswamy’s campaign and has been a Trump surrogate in the past. (Mychajliw doesn’t speak for Ramaswamy). “I hope there is a role some way, somehow. He’s a great guy, one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.”

Ramaswamy’s new place in the Trump orbit is already forming. Along with appearing at the campaign rally and promoting Trump on cable news, Ramaswamy joined Donald Trump Jr. in an appearance on his show “Triggered.”

The former president’s son called Ramaswamy a “breakout star” and “someone who handled the media very well, threw their crap back in their face.”

“Vivek’s #1 goal is to get President Trump back in the White House. America First no matter,” Ramaswamy spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin said.

Trump adviser Jason Miller did not say what role Ramaswamy will have with the campaign moving forward, but hinted he may be back on the campaign trail before Tuesday’s primary. 

“I think we’ll see Mr. Ramaswamy again here pretty soon,” Miller said. “Stay tuned.” 

And although Ramaswamy ended his bid before the New Hampshire primary, his former staff were still putting pressure on Haley at a retail stop in the state. Kevin Wu, who served as a regional political director on the Ramaswamy campaign, wore a “Never Nikki” T-shirt and sat by the bar during Haley’s visit to a Milford restaurant. He was removed from the room as Gov. Chris Sununu introduced Haley.

Ramaswamy soon promoted a video of the moment — without mentioning that the person wearing the shirt was his employee until very recently. Mychajliw joked on X that he may have paid Wu $5 to wear the “Never Nikki shirt” and a baseball cap to her Milford event, but said he was “too cheap” to actually do it.

“I can almost guarantee that was perfectly organic. I’m too cheap to give him five bucks,” Mychajliw said.

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