Indian-American US presidential aspirants Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy clashed during the Republican Party's maiden presidential primary debate over foreign policy issues, with the former South Carolina Governor criticising her rival and entrepreneur for lacking foreign policy experience and supporting Russia.
Haley, 51, and Ramaswamy, 38, have been clashing over foreign policy issues over the past few days on social media.
During the debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Wednesday, Haley accused Ramaswamy of supporting America’s foreign adversaries and abandoning its friends after he said he would not support Ukraine in the war against Russia.
Form Standing next to him, Haley, the former US Ambassador to the UN, slammed her fellow Indian-American that he is taking the side of a “murderer” Russian president and said that the US would be unsafe under his presidency.
“He wants to hand Ukraine to Russia, he wants to let China eat Taiwan, he wants to go and stop funding Israel,” Haley said. “You don’t do that to friends. What you do instead is you have the backs of your friends.” While Haley was speaking, Ramaswamy kept on saying false, false.
Ramaswamy accused her of “pushing this lie” about him.
With former president Donald Trump skipping the first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate, eight of his primary rivals brawled for second-place status, US media reported.
In the last two presidential elections, Indian-Americans have thrown their hats into the ring for the White House. The first one was Bobby Jindal in 2016 and Vice President Kamala Harris in 2022.
But this is the first time in American presidential history that two Indian-Americans were standing on the same primary presidential debate stage.
“You are choosing a murderer over a pro-American country ... You would make America less safe. You have no foreign policy experience, and it shows," Haley told Ramaswamy. The next debate will be on September 22.
Ramaswamy said he would not support giving more aid to war-torn Ukraine.
“I would not, and this is disastrous. We should use those same military resources to prevent the invasion of our own southern border here in the United States. …Ukraine is not a priority for the United States of America,” Ramaswamy said as he differed on foreign policy issues with Haley and other presidential aspirants.
“I reject the consensus that 'winning' in Ukraine is a vital US interest. Nearly the entire GOP (Republican) field rails against (Joe) Biden, but cut through the grandstanding & it turns out they’re solidly with him on the most important foreign policy issue of our time. America First 2.0,” he said.
“The US military has one purpose above all, it’s to defend America’s home turf. Yet, the defence establishment recoils at this idea,” he added.
Ramaswamy alleged that Haley was backing Ukraine at the behest of large defence contractors. “I wish you well in your future career on the boards of Lockheed (Martin) and Raytheon," he said.
Following the debate, The Wall Street Journal wrote that Vivek Ramaswamy is not a nobody anymore.
“The other candidates have taken notice of Ramaswamy, and they don’t seem to like him very much. The 38-year-old outsider who started the race polling at 0 per cent has moved up in polls for his unconventional ideas. Several of the candidates took a shot at him,” the daily wrote.
“Attacks included everything from his lack of political experience, the way he answered questions and his foreign policy views. Ramaswamy responded by slinging insults right back. It remains to be seen if his combative, unconventional style was effective, but he certainly took advantage of the spotlight. He was the most-searched candidate at the end of the debate,” the journal said.
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