How the 2024 race is heating up for Indian Americans Haley, Ramaswamy

Meenakshi Iyer (IANS)–

Two-time former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced her 2024 US Presidential run by playing up her Indian roots, but fellow Indian American and Republican rival, Vivek Ramaswamy, spoke of restoring American values.

Unapologetic about their Indian identities, ideologically, the two represent America First, and understand that their ethnic background alone cannot win them an election in an overwhelmingly white, Christian voter base.

Now, with the crucial first Republican primary debate just days away, the political veteran and the political first-timer endeavour to present themselves as strong alternatives to Trump, who holds a commanding lead over his rivals, despite facing four criminal indictments.

Haley, who says that it is time to “put a badass woman in the White House”, is far behind her former boss Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in popularity polls.

In contrast, the 38-year-old outspoken Ramaswamy, who believes it’s time for an “outsider” in the White House in 2024, currently polls at number three, beating fellow Indian-American rival Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence.

According to The New York Times, “Vivek Ramaswamy is having a well-timed political moment”.

In RealClearPolitics’ average, the youngest presidential candidate is at 6.1%, behind only Trump (54.2%) and DeSantis (15.1%). Haley at 3.4%, is followed by Tim Scott (2.8%) and Chris Christie (2.6%).

FiveThirtyEight’s polling average shows Ramaswamy even higher, at 7.5%, and a web-panel poll from the Republican firm Cygnal had him at 11% — 1 point ahead of DeSantis.

A Fox News poll showed support for the anti-woke crusader more than doubled (11%) since the previous poll with the gap between Ramaswamy and DeSantis closing-in from 17 percentage points to five.

“Every presidential candidate needs to be able to do more than one thing at a time — to walk and chew gum, hold babies and deliver speeches. But nobody in the GOP field multitasks quite like Ramaswamy,” says a Times report.

Ever since his campaign launch early this year, Ramaswamy is unstoppable — playing Richard Nixon’s old piano just minutes before unveiling his foreign policy vision at the Nixon library, rapping Eminem verses in Iowa, and appearing in more than 70 podcasts.

“The everywhere-all-at-once strategy, and the former biotech tycoon’s talent for presenting bomb-throwing anti-establishment sentiment in an affable package, has made him the closest thing the GOP primary has had to a breakout star,” Time magazine said.

A staunch Trump supporter, Ramaswamy also earned praise from the former president who had said he likes Ramaswamy as he has only nice things to say about him and all the work carried out by the Trump administration.

On the contrary, he dismissed Haley as “overly ambitious” when she announced her presidential bid, which according to experts was a dart at her gender.

According to a Politico report, some democrats believe that “Haley is well-positioned to peel off critical swing voters — in part, because of her gender. “If they nominate Nikki Haley, we’re in trouble,” a senior Democratic strategist told Politico.

At an event earlier this month, women Republican voters told Politico that they were more curious about DeSantis and Ramaswamy than Haley. One Republican woman said she liked Haley but wasn’t likely to back her because of her gender.

“I think that when I become the first female president, it won’t be because I’m a woman. It’ll be because… I’m the right person for the job,” Haley, in response to questions on her gender, has maintained.

With their similar views on China, both Haley and Ramaswamy have managed to grab the spotlight, their ability to win over Trump’s strong support base still remains a far cry, according to political experts.

Most don’t see Ramaswamy as a challenger to Trump but as someone who is trying to elevate his brand, elevate his name ID, and simply become a player in politics, says Time.

Conservative pundit and author Ann Coulter, who called Haley a ‘bimbo’, asked the Sikh immigrant to “go back to her own country” and right-wing Christian groups have been targeting Ramaswamy on his Hindu faith.

Even if Haley or Ramaswamy manage to edge past these polls, Indian American voters — as observed previously — are more likely to side with the Democrats.

Political commentators opine that as of now, for both Ramaswamy and Haley, the August 23 Republican presidential debate is just the opportunity to jump to double digits in polls and woo more voters.

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