The eve of the first debate appeared to temper one candidate’s criticism of former President Donald Trump’s no-show promise: “…not the same Donald Trump as in 2016.”
Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy’s effort to build up support as an outsider in the field of current and former GOP government officials seeking the presidential nomination has involved carefully crafted messaging. As such, a recent take on Trump’s decision to separate himself from questioning appeared every bit a change in tune from the candidate.
Expressions of having “no problem” and being “fine” with the president not participating were defended as “not a departure at all” in a statement from his campaign to Fox News Digital.
However, video from May 5, 2023, seemed to contradict a comment provided to Semafor’s Shelby Talcott who reported Ramaswamy as saying, “This is my chance to introduce myself to the country & so I have no issue with whatever decision he wants to make. If he’s on there, great. If not, I’m fine with that.
”Earlier this year beside his campaign bus, the candidate had said, “I fully expect to see Donald Trump on that debate stage. It is my expectation Trump will be there because, as I’ve known him, he’s not a man that I know of to be afraid. He’s not somebody who’s made a habit of himself to be a coward. But, if he doesn’t show up on that debate stage, I think that’ll be the best proof that the Donald Trump of today is not the same Donald Trump as in 2016.”
The shift was not the first time this election cycle that the businessman appeared to be altering a stated position as earlier this month he had knocked Juneteenth as a “useless” holiday despite having put out a message on the day of to push for it to “be a celebration of the American Dream itself.
”Commenting on the softer take on Trump’s absence, Ramaswamy communications director Tricia McLaughlin had posted, “Omg Vivek said something marginally different 3 months later. This is *crazy*” while also telling Fox News Digital, “This is not the only debate.”
While there will be more debates, Trump’s latest statement on the primary suggested that he would be isolating himself from engaging with fellow candidates in the format.
“New CBS POLL, just out, has me leading the field by ‘legendary’ numbers,” read the president’s Truth Social post. “TRUMP 62%, 46 Points above DeSanctimonious (who is crashing like an ailing bird!), Ramaswamy 7%, Pence 5%, Scott 3%, Haley 2%, Sloppy Chris Christie 2%, ‘Aida’ Hutchinson 1%. The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had, with Energy Independence, Strong Borders & Military, Biggest EVER Tax & Regulation Cuts, No Inflation, Strongest Economy in History, & much more. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!
”Reactions to the Ramaswamy campaign’s spin on the issue were not wholly satisfying as social media users wanted an answer to the question: “Does he still believe that Trump is not the same man he was in 2016?”