Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy took several personal digs at former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley during Wednesday’s GOP presidential primary debate, making remarks about her family to attack her in a debate about TikTok — marking the latest on-stage feud between the two GOP presidential hopefuls.
Ramaswamy called out Haley for criticizing his use of the Chinese-linked social media app, TikTok, by pointing out: “she made fun of me for joining TikTok, while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time, so you might want to take care of your family first.”
Haley fired back: “leave my daughter out of your voice,” later adding “you’re just scum.”
Ramaswamy made the remarks in response to a question from NBC moderators about why he joined the app in September after calling it “digital fentanyl” and saying he was open to “banning TikTok outright.”
Continuing his defense of his presence on the app, Ramaswamy said it’s a way to reach younger voters and called for a ban on “any U.S. company actually transferring U.S. data to the Chinese.”
Ramaswamy also called Haley, the only female candidate on stage, “Dick Cheney in three-inch heels,” equating her foreign policy stance to the former vice president’s hawkish world view, to which Haley responded “they’re 5-inch heels, and I don’t wear them unless you can run in them,” adding “they’re for ammunition.”
“I am telling you, Putin and President Xi are salivating at the thought that someone like that could become president,” Haley said of Ramaswamy during another exchange in the debate, after Ramaswamy reiterated his ongoing criticism of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
4. That’s the number of points Haley leads Ramaswamy by in a hypothetical GOP primary matchup, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling average. All five of the candidates who qualified for Wednesday’s debate are trailing former President Donald Trump by double-digit margins.
Ramaswamy also used the dig about Haley’s shoes as an opportunity to fuel rumors that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is wearing hidden height boosters inside of his boots. “We’ve got two of them on stage tonight,” Ramaswamy said after taking a swipe at Haley’s footwear, an apparent reference to speculation that DeSantis is wearing the concealed lifts (allegations he has firmly denied).
Ramaswamy has repeatedly irked his fellow candidates during the three GOP presidential primary debates, and engaged in another heated spat over TikTok with Haley during the previous debate. “Honestly every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say,” Haley told Ramaswamy on stage in California. The back-and-forth was prompted by a similar question from Fox News moderators in September to the one posed in Wednesday’s debate, shortly after Ramaswamy joined TikTok following a dinner with influencer and boxer Jake Paul. Allegations that TikTok has spied on users and stored some of its data on servers in China has prompted bipartisan backlash, including calls for an outright ban on the app in the U.S. The federal government, along with a multitude of state governments, prohibit employees from using the app on their work-issued devices. The company is also under investigation by the Justice Department and Congress.
GOP Debate: Nikki Haley Tells Vivek Ramaswamy She Gets ‘Dumber’ Every Time He Speaks In Heated Exchange Over TikTok (Forbes)
GOP Debate: Pence Blasts Vivek Ramaswamy As ‘Rookie’ Lacking Experience And DeSantis Derails Climate Change Question As Sparks Fly (Forbes)
GOP Debate: DeSantis Blames Trump For Republicans’ Poor Performance In Tuesday’s Elections (Forbes)