Vivek Ramaswamy Criticizes Koch Network For Funding Haley

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Vivek Ramaswamy, now on former President Donald Trump’s vice presidential shortlist, spoke at a factory in Aiken, South Carolina, on Feb. 21 about his support for President Trump and his worries about former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley ahead of the Feb. 24 GOP presidential primary.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during a Team Trump South Carolina press conference at AGY Aiken LLC in Aiken, S.C., on Feb. 21, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

He speculated that Ms. Haley’s donors are “preparing for a No Labels ticket that then takes votes from Donald Trump away in that general election.”

He went further in a press conference afterwards, criticizing the billionaire Koch family’s libertarian policy advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Action, for backing Ms. Haley and opposing President Trump.

I think it’s very disappointing that that network has thrown its support behind a candidate who does not even stand for the principles that they claim to embody,” he told The Epoch Times.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during a Team Trump South Carolina press conference at AGY Aiken LLC in Aiken, S.C., on Feb. 21, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

He cited Ms. Haley’s stance on Ukraine funding and her call for an end to anonymous social media accounts as examples of proposals that are inconsistent with those principles.

President’s Trump’s views, he argued, are “far more aligned with what AFP claims to stand for.”

He also lauded Chris Maidment, a former AFP staffer who left the network after it threw its weight behind Ms. Haley. Mr. Maidment was fired by AFP for publicly speaking out against its backing for Ms. Haley.

Nikki Haley is totally sideways on [AFP]’s foreign policy stance. She’s anti-free speech,” Mr. Maidment wrote on X on Dec. 1, 2023, as part of a thread distancing himself from AFP’s Haley endorsement.

“I congratulate the guys like Chris Maidment or others who have worked there who have been vocal and brave enough to criticize their own decision, saying it betrayed their own principles. It’ll be people like that that can actually restore that sanity and that sense of purpose,” Mr. Ramaswamy said.

But he stressed that “people make mistakes.”

I invite them to reconsider their decision … And you know what? I’m optimistic that, with some forethought, they actually will,” Mr. Ramaswamy said.

Mr. Ramaswamy has a libertarian past and some libertarian-inflected stances to this day. He voted for the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik, in the 2004 presidential election. In 2023, he campaigned at the Porcupine Freedom Festival, an annual gathering for libertarians in the northwoods of New Hampshire.

Campaign materials for GOP 2024 candidate Vivek Ramaswamy at the Free State Project’s Porcupine Freedom Festival in Lancaster, N.H., on June 24, 2023. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times/Vivek Ramaswamy/Twitter)

Americans for Prosperity has been a massive contributor to Republican candidates and conservative and libertarian causes. Open Secrets reports they rank first for outside spending in the 2024 election cycle, contributing more than $51 million to date to a variety of candidates, Ms. Haley among them.

That includes more than $31 million in favor of Ms. Haley and more than $9 million against President Trump. They have also spent more than $9 million against incumbent President Joe Biden, whose efforts at claiming a second term could benefit if Ms. Haley runs as an independent candidate and divides the conservative- and libertarian-leaning vote.

In addition to taking money from the Koch network, Ms. Haley has accepted financial support from groups and donors that typically support Democrats and progressive causes, including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman.

Many wealthy Republican-aligned donors who previously supported alternatives to President Trump are reconciling themselves to his likely victory in the Republican primary contest. They include Wall Street executive Omeed Malik, a former supporter of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis now donating to and raising money for President Trump, as reported by CNBC.

Earlier in the afternoon, Ms. Haley spoke at the Palmetto Terrace Municipal Building in North Augusta, about 20 miles away from Mr. Ramaswamy’s Team Trump stop.

She did not answer a question from The Epoch Times about whether she is contemplating a run with No Labels.

Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley walks out after a campaign event at the Palmetto Terrace Municipal Building in North Augusta, S.C., on Feb. 21, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Attendees of the Ramaswamy event at AGY Corp, a fiberglass yarn producer, reacted with a mixture of amusement and indifference to Ms. Haley’s presence not far away.

Jackie and Gayle Croft both shrugged their shoulders at the news.

“It’s her choice,” Ms. Croft told The Epoch Times with a laugh.

“Sometimes, it’s time to just bail out,” Joyce Pennington said of Ms. Haley’s continued participation in the presidential contest.

Both Crofts nodded their heads at the idea of Mr. Ramaswamy as President Trump’s VP pick.

“Everything he says is right on,” Mr. Croft said.

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