Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy swiped at former President Donald Trump on Thursday for failing to repeal and replace the health care overhaul championed by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
“I am never somebody who will make a false promise,” Ramaswamy said at an event in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. “My friend Donald Trump promised us: repeal and replace Obamacare. Eight years later, did it happen? No, it did not. It is a false promise if it is contingent on Congress.”
It was a rare dig at Trump by Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old businessman who is a fierce defender of the former president even while running against him for the 2024 Republican nomination. Ramaswamy has referred to Trump as the best president of the 21st century and at times has drawn criticism from other campaigns for his praise of Trump.
Ramaswamy is among a pack of candidates trailing Trump and generally falling behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in national polls.
Some polls suggest that he is performing slightly better than the rest of the pack in third place. A recent Fox News poll even suggested that Ramaswamy could be approaching DeSantis’ second-place position, though some other polls suggest he remains close to others behind both Trump and DeSantis.
He gave a speech on his proposals for the U.S. to end its dependence on China by reducing the supply of pharmaceuticals and industrial-base materials from the country and instead expanding trade with trusted allies.
Despite rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, the world’s two largest economies are deeply intertwined and any so-called “decoupling” would require a major restructuring of many U.S. industries.
Ramaswamy hit Trump on Obamacare when asked about tax policy. He said many presidents make mistakes by focusing on legislative matters first.
At the first GOP debate, which Trump skipped, Ramaswamy vowed to pardon the former president if given the chance and called him “the best president of the 21st century.” In an interview with ABC “This Week” earlier this month, Ramaswamy said he didn’t believe Trump had done anything illegal in response to questions about the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and the classified documents found at his Florida home.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gomez Licon reported from Miami. Associated Press writer Linley Sanders in Washington contributed to this report.
Adriana Gomez Licon, The Associated Press