Trump praises Vivek Ramaswamy — for praising him; political newcomer draws mixed marks


Former President Donald Trump is hailing businessman Vivek Ramaswamy’s debate performance late Wednesday — especially the parts where his 2024 rival praised him.

Mr. Trump, who skipped the debate in Milwaukee because he is the clear front-runner, highlighted a part of the evening where Mr. Ramaswamy called Mr. Trump the best president of the 21st century.

“This answer gave Vivek Ramaswamy a big WIN in the debate because of a thing called TRUTH. Thank you Vivek!” Mr. Trump wrote on Truth Social.

Mr. Trump also pointed to a clip where former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spars with Mr. Ramaswamy, only to be drowned out by the crowd.

“Why is Chris Christie wasting his time. Look at the crowds reaction to him!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Mr. Ramaswamy was Mr. Trump’s most ardent defender during the debate and repeated his pledge to pardon Mr. Trump if he is convicted of a federal crime.

The mutual respect could spur talk of a Trump-Ramaswamy 2024 ticket, but it is early and each candidate insists they are gunning for the presidential nomination and not second-place.

A CNN voter panel gave Mr. Ramaswamy high marks right after the debate Wednesday, though some critics said his style will turn off suburban voters and that his remarks were too light on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Former U.N. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley attacked Mr. Ramaswamy over his opposition to U.S. military aid for Ukraine.

“You have no foreign policy experience and it shows,” said Mrs. Haley, a former South Carolina governor.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie compared Mr. Ramaswamy to then-Sen. Barack Obama when he ran for president with little leadership experience in 2007.

“I’m afraid we are dealing with the same type of amateur,” Mr. Christie said.

Mr. Ramaswamy responded by asking Mr. Christie for a hug, in reference to Mr. Christie’s much-criticized warm greeting of then-President Obama in New Jersey following a significant storm and just weeks before the critical 2012 presidential election in which Mr. Obama won a second term.

Former Vice President Mike Pence dismissed Mr. Ramaswamy as a “rookie.”

Mr. Ramaswamy is moving up in the polls and eclipsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the No. 2 position in some surveys, which likely explains why he faced an onslaught from his rivals.

• Susan Ferrechio and Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.


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