Vivek Ramaswamy and Mehdi Hasan Clash Over Donald Trump

Vivek Ramaswamy and MSNBC’s Mehdi Hazan traded verbal blows when the latter questioned the presidential candidate for 2024 on his previous criticisms of Donald Trump.

Ramaswamy has avoided questions on the issue. He strongly criticized former President Trump following January 6, 2022, and did it again in his book Nation of Victims published in September 2022. He wrote that Trump’s actions following the 2020 elections were “downright abhorrent” and called January 6th “a dark day for democracy”.

In his second book “Nation of Victims”, the presidential candidate called Trump’s actions that day “downright abhorrent.” He also criticized claims of “stolen elections.” In his book, he writes that the loser of the previous election refused to admit defeat, claimed that the election had been stolen, and raised hundreds of millions from loyal supporters. He is now considering running for the executive office once again. “I am, of course referring to Donald Trump.”

The exchange heated up when Hasan asked Ramaswamy about his previous statements about Trump.

HASAN: He acted in a “downright abhorrent”, which makes him a threat to democracy. Tell me exactly what he did to be “downright abhorrent.”

RAMASWAMY: Let’s be fair to your audience. On January 10, 2021 (or thereabouts), days after the incident, I published an article in WSJ arguing censorship as the true cause of the events on January 6.

HASAN: What is not true?

Ramaswamy: That’s what I said. You have the facts. I said no when asked if that meant that I was condoning the actions of Trump. There is a big difference between bad judgment and crime. In this country, we need to know the difference.

HASAN: You’re avoiding my question.

RAMASWAMY: No I’m not avoiding your question.

HASAN: Was there anything Donald Trump did that was truly abhorrent to you? This is the second time I have asked this question.

RAMASWAMY: In his shoes, I think I would have done something differently.

HASAN (with respect): I didn’t ask Vivek that question.

RAMASWAMY: That I would have declared my reelection on the 7th of January. It’s exactly what I would have done.

HASAN: I didn’t ask that with respect. I’ll repeat it a third. What was it that Trump did that was so egregious and, quote, “downright abhorrent”? Was he a danger to the democracy? Please explain your words to our viewers.

RAMASWAMY: You’re mixing up two quotes. But what I found reprehensible was that a leader would have said, “This is why I am running for reelection and not litigating the past.” I would have handled things differently. It is not a criminal act.

HASAN: I understand…

RAMASWAMY: The reason why I have been so vehement…

HASAN: Why won’t say what he has done that is “downright abominable”? Unless you are afraid of him.

Hasan then displayed Vivek’s quote, where he says, “What Trump said and did last week is wrong.” “Downright abhorrent.”

Ramaswamy has continued to avoid the question.

RAMASWAMY : Mehdi Mehdi. I won’t let you stitch. You’re putting three things together from three different places. Would you like to actually have a conversation?

HASAN (three times): I asked you three times to answer the question. What is it about Trump’s actions that are “downright abhorrent”? You’ve got your words on screen. It’s just a simple question. What is it that he did that was “downright abhorrent?”

RAMASWAMY: I think that failing to unify this country is not what a leader should do. It is for this reason that I am running, to do things in a different way than previous presidents have done. It’s the truth.

HASAN: Your words made him a pathetic loser, and that was what you found abhorrent?

RAMASWAMY: The reality is that (crosstalk) none of this is a criminal offense, which is why I have been so vocal. I was vocal because I don’t like it when people prosecute someone for making a bad decision. I’ve said that he did make a mistake. It’s important to make a distinction.

Ramaswamy, despite my dislike of Hasan (who is one the worst actors in cable news), could have handled it better. He knew he would be challenged with his words. Especially after appearing on MSNBC. Saying that he meant Trump did not “unite” America in a general sense isn’t credible. I think it’s clear that he meant Trump saying the elections were stolen and whipping up the people into a frenzy about the charge. This is actually mentioned in the quote from his book.

He should have just owned it. Does he want to be president? He has to go through Donald Trump in order to be nominated, and his polling numbers have declined since August. He looks weak and subordinate because he refuses to speak plainly and consistently about the former President, even if that means contradicting past statements. It’s not important whether Trump supporters agree with him since his current strategy puts him at a single-digit margin.

Ramaswamy is known for his ability to speak through any situation. This exchange didn’t go well for him. He should have a coherent explanation of his statements from January 6, whether he’s standing behind them or trying to obscure them.

Ramaswamy will have to take the prize at some point. It’s possible that he didn’t set out to achieve this goal. He’s barely registered in the early stages. The conventional wisdom online that he “done the right thing” by tacitly aligning himself with Trump, is now being challenged by reality. Will he fade into obscurity or will he stand out, even from the former President? The time will tell.