Home U.S. News Vivek Ramaswamy Leans Into the Generation Gap

Vivek Ramaswamy Leans Into the Generation Gap

Vivek Ramaswamy Leans Into the Generation Gap

Vivek Ramaswamy wants voters to know he’s young, vigorous — and did he mention young?

“You’re a blank slate — you’re 38 years old,” Mr. Ramaswamy, the first Republican millennial presidential candidate, imagined a viewer as saying about him. And, he added, “Who the heck is this skinny guy with a funny last name?” — a reference to the former political wunderkind Barack Obama, which former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey quickly pointed out, adding, “I’m afraid we’re dealing with the same kind of amateur.”

But Mr. Ramaswamy made it clear that he wasn’t going to be deferential to the more experienced candidates onstage. He addressed former vice president Mike Pence as “Mike,” familiarly, and didn’t back down when Mr. Pence declared, “We don’t need to bring in a rookie.” Instead, he made his newcomer status a combative rallying cry.

“I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for, so I can say this,” Mr. Ramaswamy said in response to a question about climate change policy. Even more pointedly, he referred to his young children and suggested that voters needed to “hand it over to a new generation to actually fix the problem.”

This all came after debate preparation that included releasing videos of himself playing tennis shirtless — he has said, in a pointed reminder of his young legs, that he likes to hit with college players around the country while on the trail — and doing burpees to T.I.’s “Bring ’Em Out,” a party hit from 2004, when Mr. Ramaswamy was just an Eminem-impersonating underclassman at Harvard.

His emphasis on his youth recalls the candidacy of Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat who preceded him by one election cycle and a few years at Harvard.

Mr. Ramaswamy’s views are largely out of step with his own generation and the one below him, which skew Democratic. But, said Charlotte Alter, the author of “The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America”: “The only way the G.O.P. is attracting any young voters is on culture war issues like anti-woke posturing and contrarian hot takes. And that’s where Vivek has planted his flag.”

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