Over a span of four days, Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy made two different false claims about what he wrote in his own 2022 book.
At the first Republican presidential debate last Wednesday, Ramaswamy claimed rival candidate Chris Christie was not telling the truth when Christie said Ramaswamy had said “much different things” about former President Donald Trump in the book than the glowing assessment he was offering at the debate. But Christie was correct. Ramaswamy’s book, “Nation of Victims,” contains sharp criticism of Trump as well as some praise.
Then, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Ramaswamy delivered another falsehood while trying to deflect moderator Chuck Todd’s questioning about the book’s pointed rejection of Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was “stolen.”
Ramaswamy claimed that, if Todd had actually read “Nation of Victims,” he would have seen that, in the very same chapter as the criticism of Trump’s claims about the 2020 election, Ramaswamy had written about how “big tech” had interfered in that election by suppressing a late-campaign story related to Hunter Biden’s laptop. Ramaswamy said “about 20 pages” of the book were devoted to that subject, which he said he had also brought up in his 2021 book “Woke, Inc.”
Ramaswamy was wrong again.
While “Woke, Inc.” does indeed include criticism of tech companies for trying to thwart the spread of the Hunter Biden story – Ramaswamy’s campaign identified four pages that feature such material – “Nation of Victims” doesn’t say anything at all on the subject of “big tech” involvement in the 2020 election, let alone in the same chapter as the criticism of Trump or “about 20 pages” total. The book doesn’t even mention the name “Hunter Biden.”
It’s possible that Ramaswamy genuinely misremembered what he wrote in which book, though his campaign did not try to claim to CNN that he had misspoken. But the false claim is notable regardless of how deliberate it was.
He used it to baselessly attack a journalist’s integrity and to minimize his distance from Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination. And the claim was part of a Ramaswamy pattern – noted by The New York Times in an article on Wednesday – of the candidate inaccurately describing or inaccurately denying his past public statements.
In an article last week, we addressed Ramaswamy’s debunked claim that The Atlantic had misquoted his comments about the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Here, we look in more detail at his two recent false claims about his book.
Though Ramaswamy is running against Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024, he called Trump the “best president of the 21st century” at the Wednesday debate that Trump skipped.
Christie, the former New Jersey governor, said moments later at the debate: “In your book, you had much different things to say about Donald Trump than you’re saying here tonight.”
Ramaswamy said, “That’s not true.” Christie said, “Oh, it is very true.” Ramaswamy said, “That is not true.” Christie said, “It’s very true; I read it.”
It is true.
Ramaswamy, a businessman, did offer some positive words about Trump in “Nation of Victims.” He wrote that he voted for Trump in 2020 because he was “the candidate who best embodied American greatness” and liked that Trump “refused to apologize for the things that make America great.”
But Ramaswamy also wrote, speaking of Trump, that he “disapproved of his large-scale government spending and his tariff policies.” More notably, he offered extended criticism of Trump’s handling of his defeat in the 2020 election.
He prominently included Trump in a section of the book titled “sore losers.” He rejected Trump’s election fraud claims as “weak.” He outlined how thoroughly these claims had been rejected by various authorities including Trump-appointed judges. He argued, of Trump, that “what he delivered in the end was just another tale of grievance, a persecution complex that swallowed much of the Republican party whole.” He mocked how Trump had floated the idea that a 2022 Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania was also rigged, writing sarcastically that “apparently even Republican primaries across space and time are specially rigged against Trump and his endorsed candidates.” He wrote that “what does threaten democracy…is for political parties and their candidates to deny the legitimacy of elections.”
And he wrote, “It was a dark day for democracy. The loser of the last election refused to concede the race, claimed the election was stolen, raised hundreds of millions of dollars from loyal supporters, and is considering running for executive office again. I’m referring, of course, to Donald Trump.”
Ramaswamy went on in the book to criticize Democrats for likening Republicans’ “minor tweaks” to election laws to “Jim Crow,” and he also criticized Trump’s opponents for their allegations about Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign. He argued that even the Russia-related allegations that were eventually debunked cast an unfair pall over Trump’s presidency.
So there was nuance to Ramaswamy’s commentary about Trump in “Nation of Victims.” But there’s no doubt Christie was right and Ramaswamy was wrong in their exchange: Ramaswamy was much more critical of Trump in the book than he was on the debate stage.
In the “Meet the Press” interview on Sunday, Todd asked Ramaswamy about what he would have done if he had been vice president on January 6, 2021, the day Vice President Mike Pence abided by the law and rejected Trump’s vocal demands to thwart the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
Ramaswamy said he would have certified the results after getting the Senate to pass legislation making major changes to national elections rules. But Todd noted that Ramaswamy was striking a different tune than he did in “Nation of Victims,” a book in which he denounces “victimhood culture.”
Todd then read aloud the part of the book in which Ramaswamy wrote of the 2020 election: “The fact that all of our governmental institutions so unanimously found no evidence of significant fraud is telling. Furthermore, I’ve talked to many Republicans at all levels of government, and not one has ever presented convincing evidence that the 2020 election was stolen from President Trump; very few have seriously tried. I don’t believe that most Republican politicians actually think the election was stolen.”
Ramaswamy responded to Todd by claiming that, “in exactly that chapter” of the book, he had also discussed what he did see as consequential election interference in 2020 – how “big tech” had worked to prevent the spread of the Hunter Biden story.
Todd said that “you never talked about the tech stuff in your book,” referring to “Nation of Victims”; “this is a new thing.” Ramaswamy said, “That’s absolutely false.”
Ramaswamy then said: “I think you have not read ‘Nation of Victims.’ Literally read the book. There is about 20 pages of content devoted to this. And I also bring it up in ‘Woke, Inc.’” Ramaswamy soon added, “It’s fine, you don’t have an obligation to read my book, but if you do…quote it correctly.”
Todd said, “We have been.”
Ramaswamy was incorrect. Todd was indeed quoting the book correctly, and he was right that “Nation of Victims” does not discuss supposed “big tech” election interference.
When CNN asked Ramaswamy’s campaign what he was talking about when he claimed that “Nation of Victims” has about 20 pages devoted to “big tech” election interference, spokesperson Tricia McLaughlin pointed to four pages of “Woke, Inc.” She was correct about those pages. For example, Ramaswamy wrote, “Together, Facebook and Twitter comprise the two biggest social media platforms – and both of them effectively decided what information was made available for the American electorate in advance of an election. That’s particularly arresting when it involved a story about one of the two candidates in the election – and, in retrospect, the one who emerged as the winner.”
But again: Ramaswamy had claimed to Todd that he wrote extensively about the subject of “big tech” election interference in “Nation of Victims,” right around the part where he criticized Trump’s claims about election fraud, as well as “also” having written about it in “Woke, Inc.” That’s not true.
Given an opportunity to comment on our conclusion that Ramaswamy’s comments on NBC were false, McLaughlin criticized this reporter but did not dispute the substance of the reporting.