Speaking at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy warned that the United States was too dependent on China, promising that if elected he would push back forcefully on the country’s reach into U.S. domestic affairs.
“If Thomas Jefferson, my favorite president, were alive today, the Declaration of Independence he’d be signing is the Declaration of Independence from communist China,” Ramaswamy told Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. “That’s the Declaration of Independence that I will sign is your next president.”
With an assist from Reynolds, the entrepreneur drew the crowd into his idea of the country’s “codependent relationship” with China as he brought up the Chinese surveillance balloon that flew across the continental U.S. earlier in the year before President Joe Biden ordered it shot down off the Atlantic coast.
“What would we have down in Iowa?” Reynolds called out to a cheering crowd.
“Shot it down!” Ramaswamy responded. “If that were Russia, we would have ratcheted up sanctions. We didn’t do it for China. You want to know why? It’s because we’re scared. … We’re scared because we depend on them.”
He argued specifically that China’s manufacturing of fentanyl and its precursors, ownership of social media app TikTok and the American debt it holds all contribute to the U.S.’s “addiction” to Chinese president Xi Jinping.
To fight against Chinese influence, Ramaswamy argued that the country needed to shore up its youth’s belief in the American core values. He pointed a recent survey that made waves in conservative circles that found young respondents would choose to give up voting for a year when asked to choose between the right and accessing TikTok.
“I think that there’s no reason why every high school student who graduates in this country should not have to pass the same civics test that an immigrant — like my parents — had to pass in order to become citizens of this country,” Ramaswamy said. “Young people don’t value a country they’re taught to hate. Young people don’t value a country that they don’t even know anything about.”
Ramaswamy, who has seen a steady rise in the polls, has attracted a following for his animated personality on stage. After the “fair-side chat” with Reynolds, the 38-year-old rapped along to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” before signing autographs for the crowd.
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