Ramaswamy wanted to be an RNC insider before he started bashing the institution


Even as he tried to break into RNC circles last election cycle, the wealthy Ramaswamy never did what most well-heeled up-and-comers would: donate to Trump, despite declaring him “the best president of the 21st century” during a recent debate. A review of FEC records shows he didn’t give anything to the former president’s 2020 reelection bid or to the RNC he was trying to curry favor with.

Ramaswamy just wanted to be involved.

“As America, we now look into the mirror and ask ourselves the hardest question we ever have: who are we as a people? Are we survivors? Or are we victims? I know which one I want us to be. That is why I choose to be here tonight — at the Republican National Convention,” Ramaswamy wrote in his draft speech, which was sent to higher-ups at the RNC ahead of the 2020 nominating convention.

Ramaswamy never gave the speech. Asked about the previously unreported effort to participate in the convention, a spokesperson for the candidate said he offered a unique perch as a potential Trump validator.

“In 2020, there were no CEOs who were willing to speak out about Trump and what was right. Vivek had just spoken out about the corporate reactions to BLM riots, and was crusading against woke capitalism,” said Tricia McLaughlin, Ramaswamy’s senior adviser. “Vivek thought Trump was an excellent President who had been treated unfairly, and volunteered as a young CEO.”

After Ramaswamy submitted the draft speech, the RNC followed up with a sponsorship package, she said.

“He didn’t want to play that game,” McLaughlin said.

Ramaswamy’s message, conveyed in the speech he submitted but never delivered, largely mirrors his campaign rhetoric today.

“It’s time to turn the page on a ‘woke’ decade of celebrating our differences, to a new decade of celebrating our unity once again,” Ramaswamy wrote in remarks sprinkled with his biography as the son of working-class Indian immigrants who went on to start his own biotech company.

He admonished “race-conscious policies” that he said “stoked fresh racism.” And he implored Americans to “choose democracy over authoritarianism” and “personal responsibility over government accountability” — echoing themes of a pre-Trump Republican Party.

But Ramaswamy’s thirst to get in the good graces of the RNC just several years ago now stands in contrast to his mounting attacks on the institution, which dashed his hopes of debating fellow long-shot GOP candidate Chris Christie this week. “My ideas are a threat to the GOP Establishment & that’s why they’re trying to silence me,” he wrote this week on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

In the message, he called for an end to super PACs, which have fueled the campaigns of some of his rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Ramaswamy’s inability to make inroads with the RNC in 2020 may have had just as much to do with money.

One of the wealthiest Republicans in the race with a reported net worth nearing $1 billion, Ramaswamy declined to donate to Trump or to the RNC during the last cycle, according to a review of campaign finance records.

“It is shocking that the richest or second richest person on the debate stage, who claims he’s one of the biggest fans of Trump, gave zero to not only Trump but to the RNC in the 2020 cycle,” said a person actively involved with the RNC, who was granted anonymity to speak freely.

Ramaswamy’s campaign did not immediately respond to a question about why he did not give to Trump.

No other 2024 candidate donated to Trump, according to a review of records, but none have been as effusive in their praise of the former president as Ramaswamy — and virtually none are anywhere near as personally rich.

Ramaswamy’s admiration for Trump, however, is something that hasn’t changed between 2020 and this year. After praising Trump during a FOX debate in August, Ramaswamy also criticized Christie for attacking Trump and was the first candidate to raise a hand when asked about supporting Trump as the party’s nominee if he is convicted on any of the felony charges he is facing.

Ramaswamy’s lack of political experience has drawn criticism from several rivals. At the most recent primary debate, last week, Ramaswamy acknowledged the potential vulnerability.

“Let me level with all of you,” he said. “I’m the new guy here. And so I know I have to earn your trust. What do you see? You see a young man who’s in a bit of a hurry. Maybe a little ambitious. Bit of a know-it-all it seems at times. I’m here to tell you no I don’t know it all.”

Jessica Piper contributed to this report.


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