Last Wednesday night, as donors milled around the cavernous 3rd St. Market Hall for the official afterparty of the first Republican debate, some guests noticed a surprising interloper. The invitation-only event, hosted by the Milwaukee 2024 Host Committee and sponsored by entities like the American Petroleum Institute, had a V.I.P. section. Spotted pottering around was none other than Vivek Ramaswamy.
Just a few hours earlier, of course, Ramaswamy had been on the debate stage thundering that he was the “only candidate on stage not bought and paid for.” His arrival at a high-roller donor party struck some guests as a bit hypocritical. But it’s politics, and Ramaswamy knows the game: It takes upwards of a billion dollars these days to make it to the White House, more than a fair amount of dough, even for a candidate who today is worth some $800 million. Hence Ramaswamy’s efforts to quietly expand his rolodex of financial support, and why he and his wife were seen briefly working the crowd.