With Vivek Ramaswamy’s popularity surging after Wednesday’s inaugural Republican presidential debate, the Indian American entrepreneur’s campaign is raking in donations as it seeks to capitalize on his “fiery performance,” as The Hill put it.
Within the initial hour following the debate, the 38-year-old aspirant for the presidency amassed over $450,000 in contributions, with an average donation of $38, his campaign reported.
The debate in Milwaukee at times turned into a split-screen between Ramaswamy and several Republican contenders taking jabs at the Ohio biotech entrepreneur over his lack of political or foreign policy experience, the Hill noted.
“In the process, the upstart politician got plenty of airtime and attention, and he demonstrated his GOP primary rivals see him as a threat,” it said.
His campaign said it will now look to build on the attention as Ramaswamy crisscrosses his way through the early presidential states.
“He dominated,” Ramaswamy senior adviser Tricia McLaughlin was quoted as saying. “I mean I think the entire GOP establishment was against Vivek, and that just shows what a threat he is.”
She said Ramaswamy would make remarks at the RNC summer convention before heading back to Iowa and New Hampshire.
“He’s already done 190 events — it might even be north of that at this point. He’s the candidate who’s getting out there and meeting voters, and that matters in states like Iowa and New Hampshire,” McLaughlin said.
She noted that the campaign has not been focused on TV advertising, though “we’ll start playing that game here soon enough.”
Ramaswamy — who a few months ago was almost entirely anonymous to much of the public — fielded much of the attacks from more experienced politicians, including former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the Hill noted.
Ramaswamy’s performance earned mixed reviews from pundits, some of whom found him glib or obnoxious. But most agreed he had won the lion’s share of attention on the night, according to the Hill.
A poll released by The Washington Post, FiveThirtyEight and Ipsos showed 29 percent of probable Republican primary or caucusgoers who tuned into the debate felt DeSantis performed best, with 26 percent saying the same about Ramaswamy.
Some Republican strategists cited by the Hill said the criticism from the likes of Christie, Pence and Haley solidified Ramaswamy as a credible, serious candidate.
“It’s an absolute win. It is a clear acknowledgment that he has arrived, so to speak, within this primary race,” said Iowa Republican strategist Jimmy Centers.
David Brody of Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that Ramaswamy “won” the debate.
The other Republican presidential campaigns are publicly brushing off Ramaswamy’s debate performance.
Ken Farnaso, a spokesman for Haley’s campaign, while posting a clip of Haley’s attack on Ramaswamy, said on X that “23 seconds into this clip you’ll see the standing ovation and hear the deafening cheers @NikkiHaley gets for speaking some hard truths: Vivek Ramaswamy doesn’t have any foreign policy experience and will make America less safe.”
Ramaswamy remains a heavy underdog to Trump, as the former president’s indictments have done little to slow down Trump’s wide lead in the primary.
But Ramaswamy’s campaign argues polling showing him surpassing candidates like Pence and Haley shows they’re on the right track.
“We just got past the first debate. I mean he’s currently beating [a] former vice president, sitting governors and sitting senators and former UN ambassador,” McLaughlin said.
“This is a guy who no one knew who the heck he was. … He did introduce himself to the country last night, but we still got a lot of work to do … catching up on getting people to know who he is, how to pronounce his name and what he stands for, and I think we’re on our way,” she added.
According to Fox News, Ramaswamy held the distinction of being the most frequently searched Republican candidate on Google following the first Republican presidential debate. In the search trends, he was followed by fellow Indian American contender, Nikki Haley.
The Wall Street Journal’s coverage titled “Vivek Ramaswamy Grabs Spotlight at First Republican Primary Debate” highlighted his prominence.
The New York Times portrayed Ramaswamy’s approach as audacious, depicting his entrance as assertive, marked by direct confrontations with his rivals, a broad smile, and a lack of deference to the more seasoned candidates on stage.
NBC news described the debut debate as the “Vivek Ramaswamy Show,” signifying the remarkable attention garnered by his participation.
Ramaswamy, has largely been self-funding his campaign and raised more than $7.7 million in the second quarter, finishing with more than $9 million on hand.