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Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy visits Greek Street

VIVEK RAMASWAMY currently has 4.3% support in Iowa, according to a poll from Project 538. He’s trailing T. Scott, N. Haley, R. DeSantis and D. Trump. PHOTO courtesy of wikimedia commons

Republican primary presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy met with Drake University students and the Des Moines community over Halloween weekend. 

Ramaswamy’s team planned events at Juniper Moon, a cocktail bar, on Oct. 28 and Wellman’s Pub and Rooftop on Oct. 9. Both events were promoted to Drake student organizations through Instagram direct messages and advertised open bars and free food. The flyer for the event at Juniper Moon read, “Speak Free Drink Free.”

He also visited the Drake chapter of Theta Chi’s fraternity house on Oct. 28 for an informal conversation with its members before his event at Juniper Moon. According to Theta Chi member Emmett McMenamy, Ramaswamy asked for the conversation to be off the record.

“I was kind of like, ‘dang, that sucks’ because I would have loved to record or read a story about it,” McMenamy said.

McMenamy said Theta Chi’s Instagram received a direct message from Ramaswamy’s team about the events in town and the fraternity asked if he would want to visit their house.

“I think everyone thought that it was neat that a presidential candidate decided to take his time and come to our house,” McMenamy said. “We had a lot of people there listening and asking questions. It’s just a cool experience, and I think that most people in the house would agree.”

A tenant of Ramaswamy’s platform is “civic duty voting.” According to Ramaswamy’s campaign website, he supports a constitutional amendment that would require Americans aged 18-24 to demonstrate civic knowledge to vote, either by serving in the military or as a first responder or by passing the citizenship test given to naturalized citizens. 

“The United States faces a 25% recruitment deficit in the military, and just 16% of Gen Z say they’re proud to be American,” Ramaswamy’s campaign website reads. “The absence of national pride is a serious threat to our Republic’s survival. At a time when young Americans are taught to celebrate their differences, ‘Civic Duty Voting’ — and in particular the service path — creates a sense of shared purpose and experience.”

Senior Jack Parkos thinks civic duty voting is an interesting idea, but unattainable in the current political climate. 

“Constitutionally, that’s not going to happen,” Parkos said. “You’d have to pass another amendment. I just don’t see another amendment being passed any time soon. I don’t even think the Republican Party majority would go for that.”

Ramaswamy believes instituting “civic duty voting” would increase youth voter turnout. A study from Tufts University found that only 23% of Americans 18-29 years old voted in the 2022 midterm elections. 

“Psychologists have found people put greater value in things that they have to work for or invest in,” Ramaswamy’s campaign website says.

Parkos thinks Ramaswamy reaching out to younger voters is important, especially because college students today don’t tend to vote Republican.

“I like to see a younger person who appeals more to Gen Z, because I think within the GOP, younger Republicans and older Republicans have a differing view,” Parkos said.

Another issue Ramaswamy is running on is shutting down the administrative state, specifically the FBI and the Department of Education. Ramaswamy’s campaign platform outlines how he would redirect funds and employees from these departments and reallocate them to other areas.

“His policies — I like a lot of them. I think we over-bureaucratize the government a lot. There’s so many alphabet soup agencies. It’s hard to manage,” Parkos said. “There are people who are unelected who have all this control over the policies of our government. I don’t think that’s what our constitution lays out.”

Ramaswamy’s website says he plans to “take America First further than Trump.” He plans to do this by adopting isolationist policies, such as increasing independence from China and limiting international intervention.

“I don’t think we should be getting involved in Russia, Ukraine [and] the Middle East. I don’t think that’s our fight,” Parkos said. “We can have our opinions on who we morally support, but it’s not our job to fund militaries.”

According to a poll of likely Republican caucus-goers from The Des Moines Register, Ramaswamy is the first-choice candidate for 4% of respondents. Former President Donald Trump leads with a wide margin at 43%, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is behind him, both at 16%, current South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is next with 7% and Ramaswamy is tied with former New Jersey Gov Chris Christie. 

“I think it’s pretty cut and clear. Trump’s gonna be the candidate,” Parkos said.

Parkos thinks Ramaswamy’s attempt to imitate Trump’s brand is interesting but thinks it won’t win him the primary.

“He’s trying to carry the torch of Trump. But Trump doesn’t seem to think his time’s up,” Parkos said.

The third Republican presidential primary debate will be on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. To qualify for this debate, candidates must have at least 70,000 individual donors, 4% support in at least two national qualifying polls and sign a loyalty pledge to support whoever is the party’s eventual nominee. Ramaswamy’s campaign has said he reached these benchmarks and will likely be joined on the debate stage by DeSantis, Haley, Christie and Scott.

The Times-Delphic reached out to Ramswamy’s team, but he was unavailable for comment.

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