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Vivek & Bake

The qualities that have insulated Ramaswamy from the usual MAGA backlash were all on display during last week’s debate.
The qualities that have insulated Ramaswamy from the usual MAGA backlash were all on display during last week’s debate. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
August 30, 2023

Back in June, amid the breathless coverage of Trump’s first arraignment, I was momentarily distracted by an intriguing push alert on my phone: Vivek Ramaswamy, then a mostly unknown dark horse fringe candidate, was holding a press conference outside the Miami courthouse where the former president had appeared. While the rest of the field agonized over how to respond to the spectacle, Vivek called on every other candidate to pledge to pardon Trump if elected—an extreme position that no other candidate has vowed to take. I hurriedly texted a few sources who were plugged into the currents of the MAGA mood to see what they made of this whippersnapper. “Vivek showing the way,” one wrote back, impressed.