Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan got into a heated exchange Tuesday when the White House hopeful appeared to avoid answering Hasan’s repeated questions over his past criticism of former President Trump.
“You say he [Trump] behaved in downright abhorrent behavior that makes him a danger to democracy. What was it that was downright abhorrent?” Hasan asked Ramaswamy on “The Mehdi Hasan Show.”
Hasan was referencing Ramaswamy’s post on Jan. 12, 2021, where the biotech entrepreneur wrote, “What Trump did last week was wrong. Downright abhorrent. Plain and simple. I’ve said it before and did so in my piece.”
“Let’s actually be really fair to your audience,” Ramaswamy told Hasan. “So, on Jan. 10, 2021, thereabouts, days after that incident, I wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that censorship was the real cause of what happened on Jan. 6.”
Ramaswamy went on to argue his Wall Street Journal op-ed was not condoning of Trump’s actions, to which Hasan said, “Understood, you’re avoiding my question.”
Ramaswamy shot back, “No, I’m not avoiding your question.”
As Ramaswamy continued talking, Hasan repeated the question, “What did Donald Trump do, in your view, that was downright abhorrent? Second time I’m asking the question.”
“I think the thing that I would have done differently if I were in his shoes,” Ramaswamy replied before Hasan interrupted, “That’s not what I asked Vivek, with respect.”
Ramaswamy continued with his point when Hasan cut in, “That’s not what I asked, with respect. I’ll ask it a third time – What did Trump do that was egregious, quote downright abhorrent and a danger to Democracy? Can you just explain to our viewers, your words?”
“So you’re mixing two different quotes, but what did I think was reprehensible about what happened that day?” Ramaswamy responded, explaining he would “have done things differently” on Jan. 6.
“I understand, you keep saying what you would have done, I just want to hear from your mouth. Unless you’re scared of him — why won’t you say what he did that was ‘downright abhorrent,’?”
Ramaswamy said he would not let Hasan “stitch together three things from different places to create a caricature.”
A photo of Ramaswamy’s 2021 post was shown across the screen as Hasan read the post aloud.
“It’s a simple question, it’s your words, it’s on the screen – what did he do that was downright abhorrent?” Hasan asked.
“I believe that failing to unite this country falls short of what a true leader ought to do. That is why I’m in this race, is to do things differently than any prior president has done them. That’s the hard truth,” Ramaswamy answered.
Ramaswamy has accused the media in recent weeks of misquoting him, most notably when he claimed The Atlantic misquoted him in an article where he appeared to float a conspiracy about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
During last month’s GOP primary debate, Ramaswamy stood apart as the only candidate to defend the former president, calling him the “best president of the 21st century.”
Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie targeted Ramaswamy’s past comments about Trump during the debate, claiming Ramaswamy “had much different things to say” about Trump in his book than on the debate stage.
Christie later called Ramaswamy the “worst of what politicians are characterized to be.”
“Someone who says one thing, does another, and then when you call them, like I did, on the negative things he said about Donald Trump on Jan. 6 in his book, he didn’t say it,” Christie said last month in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
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