Republican presidential Vivek Ramaswamy told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview Wednesday that the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity Action’s endorsement of former Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) shows “the establishment puppet masters chose their establishment candidate,” which he finds unsurprising.
It was revealed on Tuesday that AFP Action, the political arm of the AFP linked to establishment Republican mega-donor Charles Koch and his late brother David, had endorsed Haley, dealing a significant blow to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) in particular. What is more, the network of establishment donors plans to dump tens of millions of dollars in the primary, according to ABC Washington Chief Correspondent John Karl.
SCOOP- Koch-backed AFP is endorsing @NikkiHaley for president. They plan to spend tens of millions to try to defeat Trump in the primaries— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) November 28, 2023
Speaking with Ramaswamy via phone call Wednesday morning, Breitbart News asked for his perspective on the endorsement and the establishment donor money likely forthcoming for Haley.
“The establishment is supporting the establishment’s puppets. I’m an anti-establishment candidate, and there’s a reason why it’s an uphill climb for an anti-establishment candidate, but we’re gonna make it to the top because it’s we, the people, that decide who runs this country, not a bunch of people in the back of Super PAC conferences,” Ramaswamy said. “And so it’s no surprise the establishment puppet masters chose their establishment candidate.”
Notably, the Biotech mogul has put millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign, loaning in excess of $15 million as of August, Axios noted.
Ramaswamy said it was “funny” that AFP Action has a “pro-free speech stance” but is backing Haley, whom he sees as “hostile to free speech and free expression.” On the AFP’s main website, free speech is one of the six core issues listed, with the top sub-priority being preserving the First Amendment.
Notably, on November 14, Haley said that anonymous social media posts are a “national security threat” during a town hall-style event on Fox News Channel with host Harris Faulkner, though she later tried to walk the comment back.
Nikki Haley says posting anonymously online is a threat to "national security."— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) November 14, 2023
"Every person on social media should be verified by their name." pic.twitter.com/dlPoYankNo
“When I get into office, the first thing we have to do, social media accounts— social media companies, they have to show America their algorithms,” Haley said while discussing misinformation online she says is being pushed by Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. “Let us see why they’re pushing what they’re pushing. The second thing is every person on social media should be verified by their name.”
Haley said that verifying users by name would bring “some civility,” considering they would “know their name is next to what they say, and they know their pastor and their family member’s gonna see it.”
As PBS News noted, while appearing on CNBC the following day after mounting blowback at her comments, Haley said, “I don’t mind anonymous American people having free speech; what I don’t like is anonymous Russians and Chinese and Iranians having free speech.”
After the AFP endorsed Haley on Tuesday, the DeSantis campaign put out a seething statement, a day after DeSantis said candidates do not “always have to lash out” when a rival scores an endorsement.
“Like clockwork, the pro-open borders, pro-jail break bill establishment is lining up behind a moderate who has no mathematical pathway of defeating the former president,” DeSantis campaign Communications Director Andrew Romeo.
The move marks a major blow to DeSantis as it signifies the anti-Trump and Ramaswamy establishment donors are starting to pick sides among the other candidates in the race. But for Ramaswamy, he sees AFP Action backing Haley and the response it triggered from DeSantis-world as a positive for his campaign and further exposure of the “rigged” nature of the political process.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s fantastic for us,” he quipped. “I mean, every one of these establishment puppet masters that are proving my point about how rigged the system is, I think it’s great for our campaign. It proves my point.”