Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel And Convention Center on March 3, 2023, in National Harbor, Maryland.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel And Convention Center on March 3, 2023, in National Harbor, Maryland. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/TNS)

NOVI, Mich. (Tribune News Service) — Vivek Ramaswamy, a former biotechnology and finance executive who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, called Sunday for dismantling the "climate cult" and restoring faith in the three branches of government during a campaign stop in Michigan.

Although President Joe Biden and Democrats are seeking ways to move the economy toward a carbon neutral basis, Ramaswamy emphasized that he isn't necessarily looking for ways to cut carbon dioxide emissions through government policies.

"As the next president, I will abandon the anticarbon framework as it exists," he said Sunday. "We will rescind any mandate to measure carbon dioxide initiatives."

Ramaswamy, 37, is one of three challengers so far to former President Donald Trump in the GOP race. He has cast himself as embracing Trump's America First agenda but without the divisiveness of the former president, who has been pilloried for causing the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol and who is facing business-related criminal charges in New York City.

Referring frequently to Biblical passages, Ramaswamy, a Harvard and Yale Law School graduate from Ohio, told the crowd of about 250 people at the Suburban Collection Showcase in Novi about growing up as a Cincinnati-born son of Indian immigrants.

Ramaswamy founded Roivant Sciences, a multibillion dollar biotech company, and Strive, an Ohio-based asset management firm that says it targets investor "who don't want their investments and retirement accounts to be used to push political agendas onto American companies."

Ramaswamy said he plans to go further with Trump's America First agenda but rely less on the politics of grievance and retribution. He said he would strengthen the military, push for justice reform and shut down the U.S. Department of Education.

The Education Department, Ramaswamy said, uses taxpayers' dollars to force radical gender ideologies in public schools across the nation that compromise American ideals.

"When you have government agency that should have never existed, there is exactly one answer for the U.S. Department of Education: We will shut it down," he said, referring to the department that was created during the Jimmy Carter administration of the late 1970s.

"I'm in this to go the distance for the country," said Ramaswamy, who is helping to bankroll his own campaign and was making his second Michigan stop of the day after campaigning in Howell.

Trump is leading in the polls for the GOP nomination race, which includes former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Halley and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have both visited Michigan in the past few months but have not announced their candidacies.

Another attendee was Rahul Chamarthi, 27, of Royal Oak, who said he's noticed how his Generation Z has popularized attacking America. He said while citizens are to be critical in a constructive way, they should only do so as a way to make the country better.

"The vision that Vivek has, and the central part of his campaign, seems to be about reviving American identity, and that really resonates with me," Chamarthi said.

In the audience was David Potts, a former Oakland County commissioner who said he thinks Ramaswamy is too young and politically inexperienced for the presidency.

"There's nothing like experience; he's never held an elected political office, and his time is not yet," Potts said. "He's at less than 1% in the polls and it takes 51% to get nominated."

A national CBS/YouGov poll released Monday showed 58% of likely Republican primary voters would vote for Trump with DeSantis trailing at 22%. Ramaswamy and Pence each polled at 5%. The poll of 2,372 voters had a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.

After the event in Novi, Ramaswamy made clear that one of his central campaign themes is to restore America's character.

"We're staying true to the actual vision of how we rediscover what America is," he told The Detroit News.

"Winning the primary, winning the general (elections) those aren't destinations; those are milestones. Nine and a half years from now, I want to leave this country in the same place of national character that (Ronald) Reagan left it in January of 1989; that's my goal."

Trump has said he wouldn't participate in the first Republican presidential debate scheduled for August.

Ramaswamy told The News on Friday that he was advising Michigan Republicans to hold a primary election to allocate delegates instead of a convention or a caucus for the presidential nomination.

"It's pretty key to not have a convention because that would be, to me, a signal that the party is captured by Trump," Ramaswamy said. "I think that if they are really committed to showing that this isn't some sort of ... staged process but is actually real and authentic, I think you need to have a primary election and apportion the delegates proportionately."

The Michigan Republican Party has not decided yet whether to hold a primary next year. Traditionally, the party has held presidential primaries. But the Democrat-controlled Michigan Legislature has moved the date of the state's primary up to Feb. 27, a date that conflicts with the national GOP's order.

"One solution is to have a caucus, where it will be delegates voting on who the Republican nominee for president is in our state," Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Kristina Karamo said in March. "So that's some conversation that's being had."

Under a caucus setup, the Michigan GOP could put limitations on who participates. The party could also choose to hold a convention where a group of about 2,000 delegates gets to vote on the presidential contest.

A primary would be the fair way, Ramaswamy said. If Michigan has a primary, he plans to spend a lot of time in the state, he added.

Ramaswamy, who has degrees from Harvard and Yale and founded an asset management firm, described himself as the "real outsider" in the race for president and the first millennial Republican to seek the job.

"I will take the America first agenda further than Donald Trump did," he said. "But I will also unite the country in the process. Because I am doing it based on first, principles and moral authority, not just based on vengeance and grievance. And I think that's something that people are hungry for."


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