Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has slammed her fellow Indian-American rival in the Republican primary race Vivek Ramaswamy for joining Chinese-owned TikTok, saying "every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber.’ Haley, the former two-term Governor from South Carolina and the former US Ambassador to the UN, was very critical of the 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur Ramaswamy and the two entered into a war of words during the second Republican presidential primary debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley in California on Wednesday.
“Every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber. This is infuriating because TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps we could have,” Haley told Ramaswamy during the debate as the two entered into verbal duels multiple times during the two-hour-long debate boycotted by former US president Donald Trump and the current frontrunner.
Haley, 51, jumped in when Ramaswamy was responding to a question about him joining TikTok, a social media site that has been banned by many countries, including India.
Asked about his move to join the video-sharing app TikTok, despite it being banned on government-issued devices due to concerns about its parent company’s ties to the Chinese government, Ramaswamy said, “Part of how we win elections is reaching the next generation of young Americans where we are.” Kids under 16 should not be on “addictive social media,” Ramaswamy said, but “we’re only going to ever get to declaring independence from China, which I favour if we actually win.” “This is infuriating because TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps that we could have. And...honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say,” Haley said.
“One hundred and fifty million people are on TikTok. That means they can get your contacts, they can get your financial information, they can get your emails, they can get your text messages, they can get all of these things. China knows exactly what they’re doing,” she said.
In February, Haley said under her leadership, “Communist China will end up on the ash heap of history.” “We can’t trust you. We can’t trust you. We can’t have TikTok in our kids’ lives,” Haley told Ramaswamy.
Ramaswamy fought back.
“I think we will be better served as a Republican party if we are not sitting here hurling personal insults and actually have a legitimate debate about policy following Reagan’s example and in his honour,” he said.
“And the answer is, that is what actually makes our country strong, and I believe in these people. I believe in these people on this stage, they’re good people, but let’s have a legitimate discussion,” he said.
Haley was not the only candidate on the stage to attack Ramaswamy, who was among the youngest on the stage. Haley is the only woman in the Republican party’s presidential aspirants.
The Democratic Party also attacked Ramaswamy through a press release.
“Vivek Ramaswamy has high praise for Donald Trump, even calling Trump “the most successful president in our century.” Ramaswamy is trying to out-MAGA his opponents, promising to take Trump’s extreme MAGA agenda even further, siding with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin over our allies, and backing more tax handouts for the ultra-wealthy,” it said.
Following the debate, the Haley Campaign said she didn’t shy away from pointing out her opponents’ dangerous policies, including Vivek Ramaswamy’s support for TikTok, Trump’s failure to prioritise the larger Chinese threat, and Ron DeSantis’ ban on fracking and offshore drilling.
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