Vivek Ramaswamy welcomes the spotlight at a debate without Donald Trump

Vivek Ramaswamy was the target of more attacks than any other candidate. The adversaries of his claim to have exposed him. But he and his allies perceive a definite win.

The youngest candidate on Wednesday night’s debate stage made no friends among his fellow Republican presidential candidates, questioning their morality, mocking their promises, and suggesting that his inexperience in government made him uniquely qualified to solve a nation’s problems.

Long before he was explaining Perestroika to Mike Pence and congratulating Nikki Haley on a future career in the defence sector, Ramaswamy brought a similar brashness to biotech. In 2015, he was a 29-year-old hedge fund manager fresh out of Yale Law School lecturing the trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry on how it was doing drug development incorrectly.

His company, Roivant, would outwit the Pfizers and Mercks of the world by recognising the hidden value in medicines that were too bureaucratically blinkered to recognise for themselves, resulting in “the highest return on investment endeavour ever undertaken in the pharmaceutical industry,” he told Forbes at the time.

And, like he did during Wednesday’s debate, Ramaswamy was polarising, drawing both boisterous shouts and having to yell over thunderous boos. Some of his biotech colleagues regarded him as a visionary, an outsider shaking up an industry that had become sclerotic at its highest levels. Others saw a profiteer jumping in on what was then a historic biotech boom, a speculator with a one-trick business model that was more likely to make him and his hedge fund buddies rich than to provide any breakthrough medications.

One management professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in 2016, “I know I run the risk of sounding like a fool two or three years from now, but this seems like some individuals are being bamboozled.

A year later, Ramaswamy’s boundless optimism was dashed when an Alzheimer’s disease treatment plucked from pharmaceutical obscurity failed in a closely watched clinical trial, wiping out $2 billion in value and lending credence to the notion that Roivant’s ostensibly revolutionary business model was too clever by half.

“I’m sorry for the people who believed the hype, and I’m sorry for the Alzheimer’s patients and families who had high hopes for this compound,” biochemist Derek Lowe wrote on his blog following the setback. “However, to be honest, I see the entire endeavour as a waste of money — Alzheimer’s research would have been better served if the same amount of money had been spent elsewhere.”

“Failure is challenging and humbling for me on a deeply personal level,” Ramaswamy wrote in an email to colleagues. “While this is personally difficult for me, it may not be a bad thing for our business: I will make sure to harness the’sting’ I feel now to double down on my efforts to ensure that we succeed as a company, and that Roivant is even stronger for having dealt with the experience of failure.”

Ramaswamy, biotech’s most famous millennial not named Martin Shkreli at the time, had previously planned for contingencies. Roivant had a pipeline of pharmaceuticals developed by an ever-increasing number of companies, and Ramaswamy’s fundraising prowess had insured its future with billions of dollars from investors such as SoftBank and Viking Global.

Ramaswamy will step down as CEO and become executive chairman in 2021. Roivant has evolved from a brazen disruptor to a more traditional pharmaceutical company. Roivant had six FDA-approved medicines and another dozen or so drugs in late-stage research by February 2023, when Ramaswamy departed the business fully to run for president.

It remains to be seen whether it can deliver Ramaswamy’s foundational promise of becoming the single biggest return on investment in industry history, but it’s valued approximately $9 billion, and the Pfizers and Mercks it previously aspired to supplant are allegedly interested in purchasing it.

MILWAUKEE, WI — As many predicted before the first Republican presidential primary debate on Wednesday, a candidate in the spotlight endured harsh criticism and struck back at competitors who disparaged him.

It wasn’t, though, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has long behind former President Donald Trump in most Republican presidential primary polls. Vivek Ramaswamy, an upstart entrepreneur closely aligned with Trump, is coming up to DeSantis in several of those polls.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie slammed Ramaswamy, calling him “a guy who sounds like ChatGPT standing up here.” Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley claimed President Donald Trump’s policy plans on Ukraine, China, and Israel will make America less safe. Former Vice President Mike Pence referred to him as a “rookie” with no relevant expertise.

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Meanwhile, Ramaswamy launched blows left and right. He claimed Christie was only looking for a position as a television news contributor. He wished Haley luck “in your future career on the boards of [defence contractors] Lockheed [Martin] and Raytheon.” In reaction to Pence, he mocked his opponents as “super PAC despite the fact that he is funded by a super PAC..

According to an NBC News tracker, Ramaswamy unleashed more attacks than anyone else on stage — and also received more attacks than any of his competitors.

Ramaswamy, a charismatic public speaker, has risen from relative obscurity to the top tier of the Republican presidential primary by wholeheartedly embracing Trump, engaging with media outlets across the spectrum, and promising to take Trumpism further than its namesake could. However, as the debate demonstrated, others, especially his opponents, see a candidate who is out of his depth, willing to say anything without considering the consequences, and who has obvious conflicts with his present stances over the last several years.

“If you love Trump, you love Vivek, and those folks will say he was amazing,” said one veteran Republican strategist who is not involved with any candidate or campaign. “To the rest of the world, he came across as a petulant, know-it-all child.”

In the post-debate press conference, Ramaswamy claimed he “took it as a badge of honour” because he was the candidate who received the most attention throughout the discussion, adding that “at least three to four different establishment politicians had their fire trained on me.”

“I think I did benefit from frankly, the fact that the other folks on the stage seem very threatened by me,” Ramaswamy remarked when asked if Trump’s absence benefited him.

Interestingly, Trump’s team and backers seemed to enjoy Ramaswamy’s performance, relishing the fact that the businessman drew more attention than the Florida governor, who has received the majority of Trump’s ire.

“The president said that Vivek “clearly indicated that he wanted to be up there and a part of it, and he took the opportunity that was offered to him and really fought for it.”Trump senior adviser Chris LaCivita told NBC News. “It was literally a debate between the former vice president, Vivek, and Nikki and Chris Christie on occasion.” And everyone else was an afterthought.”

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., a Trump supporter, told reporters that he joked with a colleague that Ramaswamy was the rocket Christie was expected to be on stage with.

The Chris Christie campaign was compared to the Kamikaze campaign, he said.”But it was Vivek [who] basically took out Christie, survived the attack, and took out Mike Pence.”

Nonetheless, Ramaswamy’s opponents regarded their clashes with him as some of the night’s highlights. Pence’s campaign was quick to condemn Ramaswamy’s request to abolish the FBI, linking it with defunding the police, claiming that he had accepted “the Radical Left’s pro-crime, anti-cop” agenda. According to a campaign statement by Haley, “Nikki Haley Will Make America Strong, Ramaswamy Will Make America Weak.”

When Haley criticised Ramaswamy for lacking foreign policy experience, members of the audience could be seen standing and clapping on the Fox News broadcast.

“Vivek’s ego is too big for such a limited resume,” according to one Haley ally. “And it shows.”

Meanwhile, DeSantis supporters claimed they were unconcerned about Ramaswamy diverting focus away from their candidate.

“Gov. DeSantis did not beclown himself,” DeSantis supporter Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told reporters in the spin room. “”He demonstrated his presidential capability and that he deserves to sit behind the resolute desk.” In my perspective, several appeared naive on stage. I’ll leave it there.”

Another DeSantis supporter, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, said Ramaswamy “sounded a little naive and kind of childish.”

“I don’t know,” Stitt remarked, “it was kind of strange how he was kind of attacking everybody on stage, saying everybody up there was bought off, which I know isn’t true.”

Regarding his squabbles with Ramaswamy, Pence told reporters after the debate that he slammed the upstart candidate because he didn’t agree with his platform.

“I mean, frankly, he has an appeasement agenda on the world stage,” Pence concluded. “I hoped the audience understood better.. According to Vivek Ramaswamy, American leadership should give [Russian President] Vladimir Putin whatever he wants. Give him all the promises he wants and hope for the best.”

A Ramaswamy spokesman named Tricia McLaughlin stated that the candidate’s assault demonstrated that he is viewed as a “direct threat to the GOP establishment.”

“Today was really Vivek Ramaswamy against the GOP establishment,” she declared.”And he completely dominated.”

However, the debate on Wednesday ended with some questions unanswered. As Ramaswamy was exiting the spin room, a reporter asked him if he would have done the same thing as Pence on Jan. 6, 2021, a topic that was posed to candidates on the debate stage.

“I had a thorough response for that query, but I was also attempting to follow the regulations as strictly as I could, he said.”And so, because we’re currently on the run, I look forward to addressing that in a future debate.” Encourage Bret [Baier] to discuss it during the debate in September, though.”

He went on to say, “I would have done it very differently.”

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