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Many curious Vivek Ramaswamy voters have one thing in common: They support Trump


MANCHESTER, NH — Vivek Ramaswamy appeared at 11 public events in New Hampshire over Labor Day weekend, following a dozen stops in Iowa over the past week. He addressed large audiences throughout a busy schedule, reflecting the growing interest in his presidential campaign since the August debate.

Many attendees curious about Ramaswamy had one thing in common beyond their interest in him: They plan to vote for former President Donald Trump.

The sentiments shared in more than two dozen interviews with voters at five Ramaswamy events illustrate the central problem of the Republican presidential campaign: They are competing for votes with a candidate that virtually all Republican voters supported a while ago. four years. But it’s a particularly important question for Ramaswamy, whose campaign is so closely modeled on Trump’s in both policy and style.

About half of those who spoke to NBC News said they planned to support Trump. Granite State voter Bob Landry, who listened to Ramaswamy speak in North Conway, New Hampshire, is leaning towards Trump in 2024 because “he knows where all the bodies are buried,” he said.

Robert Geoffroy, who overheard Ramaswamy speak at the GOP’s Labor Day picnic in Salem, New Hampshire, is convinced Trump is “the guy.” Running against the former president, Geoffroy said, is “like going up against Hulk Hogan.”

“There are a lot of things I agree with him on,” Anyang Thiep said of Ramaswamy after heading to his town hall in Hampton, New Hampshire. “But I am a Trump supporter. So I intend to support Donald Trump.”

Lilly Becanze listened to Ramaswamy speak at the Lancaster Fair. She told NBC News that she would support Trump but would like to see Ramaswamy as vice president, adding, “The two together would be amazing and that’s what a lot of people want.”

But for many, like Norma Latona, it would take “real persuasion” to get her to vote for Ramaswamy over Trump. “I think he’s sort of a Trump clone in a lot of ways, even in his advertising, in his emails,” she told NBC News.

Latona says she likes Trump’s politics but is trying to keep an open mind during this election cycle.

Even with the growth he’s seen over the past month, polls show that many people interested in Ramaswamy don’t plan to vote for him – at least not yet.

The NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll conducted in Iowa last month, for example, showed Ramaswamy getting 4% support in GOP caucuses. But 30% of Republicans said Ramaswamy was either their second choice or a candidate they considered supporting.

The 38-year-old entrepreneur is aware that most of those present at his events are or have been supporters of the former president. Him too: During the first presidential primary debate in Milwaukee last month, Ramaswamy said, “President Trump, I believe, was the best president of the 21st century. »

When voters ask Ramaswamy why he is running against Trump, he assures them that the former president will be a senior adviser, with phrases such as: “I expect President Trump to be one of my advisers and most significant mentors, probably my most significant, when I do. I am at the White House.

Speaking to reporters following an event at the town hall in Laconia, New Hampshire, Ramaswamy said the way to turn Trump fans into Ramaswamy voters was “gradually.”

“We shouldn’t be talking about ‘which person’ yet,” Ramaswamy said, stressing that this part of the campaign is still about showcasing supporters rather than locking them down. “We should talk about who we are. What are we standing for.”

Of course, many voters attend 2024 campaign events looking for a new candidate to support, and Ramaswamy appeals to them.

George Oliver told NBC News at a North Conway town hall that his leading candidate was Ramaswamy. Oliver said he would vote for Trump in the general election if he were the Republican nominee, but not in the primaries.

“I don’t have much faith in him, and especially what happens to him with all the charges,” Oliver explained.

New Hampshire voter Cynthia Perkins has expressed her desire for someone new and thinks Ramaswamy has promise.

“I just don’t want a lame duck and I prefer someone fresh and new,” she said, adding, “And I love the message that Vivek sends.” Perkins also likes former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, saying she won’t vote for Trump in the general election unless he chooses Ramaswamy or Haley for his ticket.