Vivek Ramaswamy’s ‘Truth’: What the Trump VP prospect’s podcast reveals about his future

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At the beginning of a recent episode of his podcast “Truth,” Vivek Ramaswamy, a Cincinnati-area native and suburban Columbus entrepreneur, lamented that “you’re not supposed to say the n-word anymore.”

“But I’ll say it,” the former Republican 2024 presidential candidate added, after a brief pause. “Nationalism.”

The provocative statement was designed to garner attention – an approach the 38-year-old has taken since he entered the political spotlight with his long-shot White House campaign in the spring of 2023. It’s the type of inflammatory rhetoric listeners of his podcast, first launched that April during the formative days of his run for the world’s most powerful job, have come to expect.

More: Smart, driven, a little ‘arrogant’: How Vivek Ramaswamy’s Cincinnati roots shaped him

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It was also the kind of MAGA-style commentary that’s driving the rookie politician into the conversation as an unconventional pick to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate or member of the Republican’s potential administration. A millennial and a multimillionaire, Ramaswamy could help attract a younger generations of voters to the 78-year-old Trump’s campaign − and help fund it.

When Ramaswamy started the podcast, he said it was designed to deliver listeners his unvarnished takes on the hot-button issues facing the country and serve as “the intellectual foundation” of the America-First movement. The media venture was “less podcast and more presidential campaign,” Ramaswamy quipped during the first episode, stating that he intended to “lift the curtain” on the political process.

Ramaswamy’s bid for the Oval Office came to an end in January, when he garnered less than 10% support in the Iowa Caucuses. The weekly podcast, however, has given him a platform to continue building his following, while remaining a keystone voice in Trump’s movement. Ranked in the top 100 in the news category of Apple Podcasts, “Truth” reaches more than 51,000 monthly listeners.

Now, more than 70 episodes in, the self-described outsider has honed his message – frequently repeating verbatim the same statements about American identity and the federal bureaucracy that previously underpinned his pitch to voters.

Ramaswamy’s future role in a potential Trump White House

Ramaswamy took a three-month break from podcasting after his presidential campaign came to an end. His first new episode landed in early May, just days before he attended a private GOP donor retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, and stood on a stage alongside roughly a dozen of Trump’s prospective vice-presidential picks.

Earlier this year, influential conservatives like Glenn Beck were encouraging Trump to pick Ramaswamy as VP. His name has remained in the conversation ever since, though media outlets like Bloomberg have reported Trump personally told Ramaswamy he was not in the running for the No. 2 slot.

The former biotech entrepreneur also wasn’t identified in media reports among the small group of vice-presidential hopefuls whom the Trump campaign asked to submit detailed background information in early June. But names have quickly exited and reentered the conversation, and sources have warned USA TODAY that the situation is fluid. Ohio Sen. JD Vance was on the list to submit vetting information to the campaign.

On his podcast, the “anti-woke” crusader has played down his chances of becoming Trump’s running mate, arguing in a recent episode that conversations around his political future put “the cart before the horse.”

He has, however, hinted at other potential roles in a Trump White House – including a possible post overseeing immigration enforcement as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The Cabinet agency created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is notably one of the few that Ramaswamy hasn’t proposed slashing funding for or eliminating.

During an appearance on the The Aarthi and Sriram Show podcast, Ramaswamy described immigration enforcement as an issue he is “passionate” about “delivering some wins on.”

“We’ll see what happens in the next 10 months,” Ramaswamy said.

Culture over policy

In his podcast, Ramaswamy frequently talks with guests about a “crisis of self-confidence” across the country, which he says has led people to question what it means to be an American.

The policies he’s offered to address the problem revolve mostly around immigration, including ending birthright citizenship for children of undocumented migrants and implementing merit-based immigration to further economic priorities.

But more often, he frames his efforts to reignite a common national identity in the U.S. as a cultural movement.

Former President Donald Trump and Vivek Ramaswamy address the crowd at a Trump campaign rally at Atkinson Country Club and Resort in Atkinson, N.H., on Jan. 16, 2024, a day after Ramaswamy ended his presidential bid and endorsed Trump.
Former President Donald Trump and Vivek Ramaswamy address the crowd at a Trump campaign rally at Atkinson Country Club and Resort in Atkinson, N.H., on Jan. 16, 2024, a day after Ramaswamy ended his presidential bid and endorsed Trump.

He frequently suggests that people’s identity in the U.S. should be based on four principles: faith, patriotism, family and hard work. Several episodes of the podcast specifically delve into reforming the role that men play in families and society.

Speaking with Terry Schilling, the president of the socially-conservative think tank American Principles First Project, Ramaswamy argued that the nuclear family structure acts as “training wheels” for civic participation.

“I’m like you, a believer in the fact that grounding in the family unit allows us to open ourselves up to the possibility of believing in a higher God, in seeing a greater sense of citizenship to a nation,” Ramaswamy said to Schilling.

In an episode titled “Fathers Under Attack,” Ramaswamy spoke with Alec Lace, a railroad mechanic who hosts the podcast “First Class Fatherhood,” about the belief that the “crisis” of absentee parents has fueled problems like crime in the U.S.

“Men have been emasculated in this country, you know that,” Lace said to Ramaswamy, who agreed. “It’s almost bad to be a man today.”

They argued that decreasing the rates of fatherlessness in the U.S., partly revolves around “making it cool to be a dad.”

“You can’t legislate that into existence. You can lead by example,” Ramaswamy said, noting that “people running for president of the United States have some cultural attention they get.”

Cultivating a young following

Ramaswamy was the only millennial in the 2024 GOP primary field and has leaned into his age to attract support outside of the traditional Republican base, mostly among young men.

On the campaign trail, for instance, Ramaswamy rapped along to Eminem’s 2002 classic “Lose Yourself” and engaged in push-up contests against college students. He also befriended Youtuber Jake Paul, who convinced him to download TikTok to reach younger audiences.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy attended the fight between Jake Paul and Andre August.
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy attended the fight between Jake Paul and Andre August.

In many ways, Ramaswamy’s podcast is another extension of those efforts. People in his generation listen to podcasts more than any other group, according to a study from Edison Research. And Ramaswamy seems to have tried to target younger, masculine audiences with his platform.

The first episode of “Truth” that Ramaswamy released after ending his campaign featured Dana White, the CEO and president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Combat sports, like those hosted by White’s UFC, have a significantly male viewership. And much like Ramaswamy, White is an outspoken supporter and friend of Trump. The ex-president made one of his first public appearances after his New York hush money trial at a UFC fighting match.

Less than 10 days after dropping out of the GOP race, Ramaswamy also appeared as a guest on the comedy podcast “Flagrant. The show is hosted by Andrew Schulz, who became famous for his role on MTV’s “Guy Code,” and stand-up performer Akaash Singh. During the more than two-hour episode, Singh and Schulz made raunchy jokes about their predominantly male audience.

Earlier story: Ohioan Vivek Ramaswamy out of presidential race after 4th place Iowa finish

Ramaswamy, meanwhile, used the platform to directly speak to young voters.

“I want to leave people with this advice, especially young people,” he said while talking about lessons he learned from taking a comedy class. “Your frustrations are often rooted in something real in the world.”

A die-hard Trump supporter

Like many politicians vying for Trump’s favor, Ramaswamy in the past has walked the line between defending and criticizing the ex-president. He’s largely remained an outspoken supporter of Trump and likely will in the future.

(L-R) Republican Representatives of Florida, Cory Mills and Byron Donalds, and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speak to the press outside of the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on May 14, 2024, as former President Donald Trump attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments.
(L-R) Republican Representatives of Florida, Cory Mills and Byron Donalds, and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speak to the press outside of the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on May 14, 2024, as former President Donald Trump attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments.

Ramaswamy was among the first GOP candidates to critique a pending New York criminal indictment against Trump in March 2023, which would go on to charge the former real estate mogul with falsifying business records and breaking campaign finance laws. He dedicated the inaugural episode of his podcast a month later to defending Trump against those criminal charges, the first ever against a former president of the United States. When a jury convicted Trump a year later on the 34 felony charges in the case, Ramaswamy aired another episode blasting the historic trial.

Ramaswamy has also railed against the three other pending criminal indictments Trump is facing in state and federal court, including on charges that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Ramaswamy, wearing a “TRUTH” hat, was the only one of the former president’s primary rivals who showed up outside of the Miami courthouse where Trump was arraigned on federal charges in June 2023 for allegedly mishandling classified documents.

The GOP rising star’s only critique of Trump is his age and staying power in the GOP.

“I don’t think Trump is the same person today as he was in 2015,” Ramaswamy said during an episode in May with Dana Loesch, the former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association. “He had fresh legs back then.”

His deference toward Trump has likely gone a long way with the former reality TV star. Trump has almost entirely shied away from attacking Ramaswamy.

Just days ahead of the Iowa Caucuses, Trump wrote in a social media post: “A vote for Vivek is a vote for the ‘other side’ … Vivek is not MAGA.”

The spat quickly ended. Ramaswamy responded by calling Trump the “greatest President of the 21st century,” and saying he was “not going to criticize him.” A day later, after dropping out, Trump’s former primary opponent began campaigning for him in New Hampshire alongside other vice presidential hopefuls, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Vivek Ramaswamy’s ‘Truth’ podcast: Insight into potential Trump VP

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