The "anti-woke" GOP presidential candidate: Vivek Ramaswamy on "The Takeout"
After blowing the answer to a question about the U.S. nuclear triad in the first week of his 2024 presidential campaign, political novice and bio-tech multi-millionaire Vivek Ramaswamy plans to sit down for weekly policy briefings — and turn them into campaign podcasts.
"I did not know what the nuclear triad was," Ramaswamy admitted to CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on this week's episode of "The Takeout." "But you know what? I'm a fast study and that's what I've said all along."
Radio host Hugh Hewitt stumped Ramaswamy during an interview in late February with a question about the U.S. nuclear arsenal – made up of land, sea, and air delivery methods and referred to as the "nuclear triad."
Asked if he was familiar with the nuclear triad, Ramaswamy responded, "Yeah, you're talking about our new axis of sort of evil here?" After Hewitt clarified he meant the three-pronged U.S. nuclear deterrent, Ramaswamy said, "I have to admit, I'm not familiar with that."
The episode recalled a moment during a 2015 presidential debate hosted by Hewitt, when then-candidate Donald Trump also appeared not to know what the nuclear triad was and instead gave his views on who should be trusted with nuclear weapons.
Ramaswamy told Garrett that beginning in March, his presidential campaign would start to tape briefings he receives on policies and issues he feels are necessary to be prepared for the presidency and would release them as podcast episodes. "There's a lot I have to learn, that every one of us has to learn," Ramaswamy said. "Nobody's born qualified, or even today qualified, to be president of the United States. That learning process is probably the most important part, and I want everyone to see how I learn and to learn with me."
The 37-year-old Republican presidential candidate, who confirmed he has a net worth of approximately $600 million, told Garrett that he intends to self-finance his campaign. He promised transparency and said he plans to release his tax returns and health records, should he win the nomination.
"I believe those are basic table stakes," he said.
Former President Donald Trump's tax returns were only released last December after a battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
When the Republican presidential debates begin later this year, Ramaswamy said he expects to be on stage. He urged the Republican National Committee to be transparent about the requirements to qualify. "If I have one piece of advice to them, make those criteria clear," he said of the RNC.
He has pledged to support the candidate who becomes the Republican nominee. "I've been clear that I'm not I'm not a party man. I could care less for the Republican Party apparatus," Ramaswamy told Garrett. "But you know what? For the sake of the country, I absolutely will say that I will support the ultimate nominee."
The author of several books, Ramaswamy's latest, "Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam," takes on hot-button issues for conservatives such as "wokeism," "climateism," virtue-signaling, and gender ideology.
Ramaswamy called presidential opponent Governor Ron DeSantis "one of the best foot soldiers" in the battle of anti-wokeism, but he argues he is better equipped to address the "root cause" of the "symptom" of wokeism – a "deeper void of national identity."
While he acknowledges the realities of the pandemic and climate change, he opposes what he views as the extreme reactions to these problems.
"When I talk about climateism and Covidism, I'm not denying the reality of the underlying reality of COVID. I'm not denying the reality of the underlying reality that global surface temperatures are going up and in part due to human activity. But what I'm denying here and rejecting is the religious fanaticism to say that that needs to be the end all, be all purpose of human action, when in fact the end all be all purpose of human action should actually be human flourishing itself," Ramaswamy said.
In the spirit of transparency, Ramaswamy disclosed that he is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and has received his booster shot. "I'm not afraid to say it…And I'll challenge every other presidential candidate on the Republican stage to be open about that, too."
But he does not believe that vaccination status should be used to divide Americans. Ramaswamy also made clear he opposes Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's calls for a "national divorce" between red states and blue states.
"I bluntly disagree with her. I think it is the wrong way to go," Ramaswamy said.
"But for me, it was a wakeup call and a reminder for why I'm doing what I'm doing in this run for president. We've celebrated our diversity and our differences so much that we forgot what unifies us across those differences, the ideals that set this nation into motion," Ramaswamy told Garrett.
"That's what I think the conservative movement needs to embrace as its agenda to lead with that…to now rise to the occasion, to actually rediscover that common thread that binds us together across our capital D Diversity. I say our diversity is not our strength. Our strength is what unifies us across our diversity. And I'm leading the way to help rediscover those values."
Executive producer: Arden Farhi
Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin
Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com
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