Former President Donald Trump believes newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy pulled out a "big win" in the Republican primary candidates' debate Wednesday, the Daily Caller reported. The GOP candidates took the stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, without Trump.
While other candidates have denigrated Trump, Ramaswamy has consistently praised the former president. During the debate hosted by Fox News, Ramaswamy continued his staunch support for Trump, which the former president took as a win for the 38-year-old candidate.
"President Trump, I believe, was the best president in the 21st century. It’s a fact," Ramaswamy said, eliciting enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
Trump was so impressed with this moment that he declared victory for the self-made millionaire. "This answer gave Vivek Ramaswamy a big WIN in the debate because of a thing called TRUTH. Thank you, Vivek!" Trump wrote on his Truth Social.
The former president refused to participate in the debate hosted by the Republican National Committee and Fox News because he is far ahead of the rest of the field. Trump currently has an average of 41% in several polls, making him the odds-on favorite to win the nomination.
Instead, Trump opted for a sitdown with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has quickly carved out a novel space on X, formerly known as Twitter. The pre-recorded interview premiered on the social media platform at the same time as the debate.
The video got millions of views, and Trump took to his Truth Social for a victory lap. "231,000,000 Views, and still counting. The Biggest Video on Social Media, EVER, more than double the Super Bowl," Trump wrote Thursday, according to The Hill.
The 45-minute video racked up several views as counted by X, which ticks another view each time it shows up in someone's feed, even if the user doesn't interact with it. Still, Trump took the count as a win and confirmed his decision to snub the debate, the Washington Examiner reported.
"I just felt it would be more appropriate not to do the debate. I don't think it's right to do it," Trump told Carlson.
"I'm going to have eight people, 10 people, whoever made the debate ... I don't know how many it is, but I'm going to have all these people screaming at me, shouting questions at me, all of which I love answering, I love doing, but it doesn't make sense to do them," Trump added. There were eight candidates on the stage that night who would have vying for attention by tearing him down.
Still, six candidates, including Ramaswamy, pledged to stand by Trump if he became the nominee and was convicted of a crime. After moderator Bret Baier asked about a pledge the candidates all had signed to support whoever would be the Republican nominee, he asked for a show of hands about supporting Trump even if he was convicted.
While Ramaswamy was the first to raise his hand, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis captured the wrong kind of attention by looking around first at the other candidates before doing the same, Newsweek reported. DeSantis, positioned to the center of the row of candidates, can be seen looking left and right before furtively raising his hand.
"WOW—Ron had to check out the rest of the stage to decide whether or not to raise his hand," the Trump War Room captioned the clip of the awkward moment. "Pathetic!"
Ramaswamy is smart to stand by Trump even as an opponent. The former president and the people who support him appreciate those who remain loyal to him, and that could mean a vice president spot for Ramaswamy.