Presidential candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy, called Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a “comedian in cargo pants” and a “Nazi” during the NBC News Republican debate Wednesday.
Zelensky, who is Jewish, has expressed his solidarity with Israel amid its war in Gaza and has reportedly sent an official request to the Israeli Prime Minister’s office asking to coordinate a visit. In 2021, Zelensky signed a law combating anti-Semitism.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has repeatedly claimed Ukraine’s government is “openly neo-Nazi” and controlled by “Nazis” in order to justify his invasion of Ukraine and repression of pro-Western activists and groups.
When Ramaswamy was pressed if he supported additional funding for Ukraine as requested by President Joe Biden, the candidate personally attacked Zelensky and claimed Ukraine was not a legitimate democracy.
“Ukraine is not a paragon of democracy,” he replied. “This is a country that has banned 11 opposition parties. It has consolidated all media into one state TV media arm. That’s not democratic. It has threatened not to hold elections this year unless the U.S. forks over more money.”
“It has celebrated a Nazi in its ranks. The comedian in cargo pants, a man called Zelenskyy, doing it in their own ranks. That is not democratic,” he continued. “Those are the hard facts and sort of framed this as some kind of battle between good versus evil. Don’t buy it.”
Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old businessman, announced his campaign in February on Fox’s now-defunct Tucker Carlson Tonight, at the time one of the nation’s premier sources of televised culture war grievances, fear-mongering, and conspiratorial nonsense. He’s since built himself up as a younger, more Trumpian version of Trump, and like the ex-president in 2016, Ramaswamy is entering this race as an upstart, largely self-funded candidate with no previous political experience.
Ramaswamy has been one of Trump’s loudest defenders in the 2024 field. He has already sworn that he will pardon Trump should he win the presidency.