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Updated Jan 15, 2024, 11:27pm EST
politics

Vivek Ramaswamy suspends campaign after fourth-place Iowa finish

REUTERS/Sergio Flores
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The News

Vivek Ramaswamy suspended his presidential campaign on Monday and endorsed Donald Trump, after his predictions of a result that would “shock the world” never materialized.

“We did not deliver the surprise we wanted to deliver tonight,” he said at a press conference in Des Moines, shortly after 10 p.m. local time. He was on track to win a bit less than 8% of the vote. “There’s no path for me to be the next president, absent things that we don’t want to see happen in this country.”

Spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin told Semafor that he had called Trump earlier to congratulate him, who praised Ramaswamy’s rise from obscurity in his own victory speech on Monday night.

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In the final days before the caucuses, Ramaswamy had told crowds that he needed to stay in the race to “save Trump,” accusing a shadowy political establishment of trying to “narrow this down to a two horse race between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley.” A photo of the candidate with supporters, wearing “VOTE VIVEK SAVE TRUMP” T-shirts convinced Trump and campaign manager Chris LaCivita, who usually ignored him, to condemn him.

“All he does is disguise his support in the form of deceitful campaign tricks,” Trump posted on Truth Social.

At a Sunday stop in Ankeny, Ramaswamy blamed Trump’s “political consultants” for the attack, and told voters that he would stay in the race through the convention. Pressed on what he’d do if Trump was losing, he slightly tweaked his answer.

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“It’s 100% guaranteed that I will do the right thing for this country,” he said.

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David and Shelby's View

Ramaswamy started the race with low expectations — he’d never run for office before — and a growing reputation as an anti-woke crusader. He moved up in polling in the spring, after plowing millions of dollars of his own money into the campaign and becoming a fixture on conservative podcasts.

His media strategy from the start was the opposite of some of his opponents, opting to do as much as possible in an effort to boost his name recognition — whether in the form of left-leaning networks or more obscure podcasts. For a little bit, that strategy paid off, and he garnered a name for himself as the “MAGA 2.0” candidate — one reluctant to criticize Trump, but who vowed to go even beyond the former president in his policy initiatives.

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But he stalled out after the first primary debate, in Milwaukee, when his combativeness backfired. His unfavorable ratings inched up throughout the campaign, and he continued to back Trump up –– condemning his indictments, warning that the party elite was out to get him, and offering to remove himself from the Colorado ballot when the state supreme court removed the former president. He faced further criticism for his ever-changing answers, and often sparred with the media as the primary race continued.

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Notable

  • Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign fielded questions from Iowa voters about his family’s religion and race in the days leading up to caucus night, NBC News reported.
  • In Ramaswamy’s final month as a candidate, we looked at how he courted far-right voters by taking positions that Trump avoided.
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