Former president Donald Trump on Saturday broke his de facto nonaggression pact with Vivek Ramaswamy, attacking the biotech entrepreneur and long-shot presidential candidate in a social media post, writing: “a vote for Vivek is a vote for the ‘other side.’”
“Vivek started his campaign as a great supporter, ‘the best President in generations,’ etc,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “Unfortunately, now all he does is disguise his support in the form of deceitful campaign tricks.”
Trump said voters should not get “duped” by Ramaswamy, saying that the entrepreneur “is not MAGA.”
“Don’t waste your vote!” he wrote.
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While Trump has mounted repeated attacks against most of his 2024 opponents, he had long avoided attacking Ramaswamy, who remains loyal to the former president and who has promised to be the next iteration of Trump.
But that may have changed after Ramaswamy reposted a photo on X on Saturday showing him posing with supporters wearing shirts that read: “Save Trump, vote Vivek.” The shirts also featured Trump’s Fulton County mug shot. The original tweet said, “If you want to save Donald Trump from the inevitable, you vote for Vivek.” Ramaswamy has repeatedly promised that if he’s elected, he would pardon Trump.
Trump’s rare attack on Saturday was the result of Ramaswamy having “poked the bear too many times,” according to Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita.
“You don’t get to poke the bear without getting bit,” LaCivita added.
Late Saturday, Ramaswamy sought to dismiss Trump’s attack, calling it an “unfortunate move by his campaign advisors.”
“I don’t think friendly fire is helpful,” Ramaswamy said in a social media post. “Donald Trump was the greatest President of the 21st century, and I’m not going to criticize him in response to this late attack.”
Ramaswamy — a first-time candidate who is running as Trump 2.0 — has sought to make clear to voters that he is loyal to the party’s front-runner, often talking about how chummy his relationship with the former president is. Ramaswamy largely based his platform and policy proposals on Trump’s agenda and has argued that the former president did not go for enough during his presidency.
In his Saturday night post, Ramaswamy said he is “worried” about Trump and the legal issues he faces, and that he has “stood up against the persecutions against” the former president.
“I’ve defended him at every step,” Ramaswamy said. “I want to save Trump & to save this country. Let’s do it together.”
While Ramaswamy has continued to promote his relationship with the former president on the campaign trail, the strategy has not translated into more support for the entrepreneur. Despite building some momentum last year, Ramaswamy has dropped sharply in the polls ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Meanwhile, he increasingly embraced extreme ideas and far-right individuals, as well as conspiracy theories — moves some Republican strategists see as a desperate ploy to garner attention as a provocateur.
According to a Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom poll released Saturday night, Trump is polling at 48 percent in Iowa, maintaining a wide lead over his two main rivals — former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who are polling at 20 and 16 percent, respectively. Ramaswamy came No. 4 in that poll, receiving 8 percent of support.