Ramaswamy rouses Michigan GOP faithful on Mackinac, claims there is ‘a war in this country’
In years past, the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference would attract several GOP presidential candidates, but this time Michigan Republicans had to settle for just one: Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur from Ohio, who enthralled the MAGA-dominated crowd with a full-throated embrace of anti-science rhetoric and an outright rejection of compromise.
“I think we’re in the middle of a war in this country,” said Ramaswamy, speaking to a room that was about half full on Friday on Mackinac Island. “It’s not a war between black and white. It’s not a war between man and woman. It’s not even a war between Democrat and Republican. Not really. It’s a war between the 80% of people in this country who share the ideals of our founding, who share the idea that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
However, he said the remaining 20% of the country believes that their identity is based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation, which he termed “genetic victimhood.”
“That if you’re Black, you’re inherently disadvantaged,” he said. “That if you’re white, you’re inherently privileged, no matter your economic background or your upbringing. Your race, your gender, and your sexuality determine who you are and what you can achieve in life. They believe that we have to flog ourselves for our own success in this country by vaguely pledging allegiance to this new cult of climate change that says we have to abandon our way of life here in the United States.”
Calling them “mutually exclusive worldviews [that] cannot coexist,” Ramaswamy rejected the idea that the nation is reaching a breaking point.
“I can tell you somebody who has now been to a majority of states, including over the course of the last couple of years, and in this campaign, that that division is artificial,” he said. “It is made up. It is a projection designed to divide and conquer the people. At least 80% of this country shares the same basic values that we do.”
Ramaswamy then pivoted from broad ideological pronouncements to policy specifics, promising to shrink the federal government to levels not seen since the New Deal of the 1930s.
“How are we going to find our way out of this, to win the war that we are losing? First step we have to take on the managerial class,” he said. “As your next U.S. president, if you all put me there, we will shut down the unconstitutional fourth branch, 75% headcount reduction in the administrative state in Washington, D.C. Rescind unconstitutional federal regulations. That’s a majority of federal regulations on day one that we are done with.”
Promising that those unprecedented cuts would “unlock the U.S. economy,” Ramaswamy said they would also clear the way to fully embrace fossil fuels, despite the impact on climate change.
“When you get the administrative state out of the way, we will drill, we will frack, we will burn coal. We will embrace nuclear again in this country without apology. That is how we grow our economy,” he said.
Despite polling far behind former President Donald Trump in the race for the GOP nomination, (RealClearPolitics has him at a distant third with just 7% compared to Trump’s 57.5%, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is in second with 13.3%) Ramaswamy adroitly managed to praise Trump, while also laying out how he differs in temperament.
“I respect President Trump immensely,” he said. “He was the greatest president of the 21st century and I will not apologize for that. I respect him for his accomplishments because I am an America First conservative … but I am not just a Trump First conservative. The America First agenda does not belong to one man, does not belong to Donald Trump. It does not belong to me. It belongs to you, the people of this country. I am not guided by vengeance and grievance. I am guided by my gratitude to this country.”
Ramaswamy then concluded with a list of his priorities..
“That is what we’re doing in this campaign,” he said. “Speaking the truth, not just when it is easy, but when it is hard. That is what we’re doing today. God is real. There are two genders. Fossil fuels are a requirement for human prosperity. Reverse racism is racism. An open border is not a border. Parents determine the education of their children.”
Other speakers at the weekend conference included Kari Lake, the failed 2022 Arizona gubernatorial candidate who has vociferously parroted Trump’s false contention that he won the 2020 election. Lake, who is expected to announce a run for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat in the coming days, continued that platform in her keynote address Saturday.
“If we don’t stand up and do something about these elections, our grandkids will look at us and they’ll be living in a communist country and saying, ‘What did you do?’” she said.
One of the headliners who had been expected to speak at the conference, right-wing author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, failed to show up in person, with Jeff Fuss, an Ottawa County Republican, telling the Detroit News the state party’s lackluster finances under Chair Kristina Karamo meant they weren’t able to pay D’Souza’s appearance fee.