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Tipsheet

Vivek's Claim About What He Would Have Done as VP on January 6th is Straight Fiction

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Many conservative voters have been intrigued by businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, whose rhetorical delivery and energetic, 'be everywhere' approach have won him increased support.  He rubbed some voters the wrong way at last week's debate, but so did others on stage.  I find some of his facile 'solutions' to complex problems off-putting at times, and his theme that GOP competitors (except for one) are too old or bought-off to embrace his allegedly simple fixes is breezily demagogic.  On the other hand, his call for a generational change in leadership strikes a chord with voters across the political spectrum, and his confrontations with media interviewers are often well-executed on his part.  Republican voters like to see that sort feistiness and quick-on-feet retorts.  

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During the forum in Milwaukee, all of the candidates who responded to the question of whether former Vice President Mike Pence did the right thing by certifying the election results on January 6, 2021 responded in the affirmative.  Pence had done his duty under the Constitution, they said, correctly.  His role was essentially ceremonial, presiding over the counting of the electoral votes.  He possessed no power to unilaterally disqualify votes or send slates of electors back to states.  No Vice President has ever attempted such a gambit because no Vice President has ever had the authority to try.  In the modern era, Al Gore didn't attempt this violation after his controversial 2000 loss to George W. Bush (yes, he lost to Bush).  And if her ticket loses next year, Kamala Harris would have no ability to try something similar.  

But one Republican candidate who has hedged and been critical of Pence's actions that day -- aside from the frontrunner, who was urging him to violate his oath -- is Ramaswamy.  He struck an extremely negative tone about January 6th and President Trump's post-2020 election conduct in his book, but he's currently trying very hard to appeal to the Trump base, so he's shifting his views and emphasis on any number of issues, including his own voting history.  Others have noticed this pattern, and have documented it.  As for the Pence question, he was prodded on it by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, and Ramaswamy's answer was pure fantasyland.  For someone trying to build a political brand around brave truth-telling, this is a major misfire:

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I would have done it very differently. I think that there was a historic opportunity that he missed to reunite this country in that window. What I would have said is, "This is a moment for a true national consensus," where there's two elements of what's required for a functioning democracy in America. One is secure elections, and the second is a peaceful transfer of power. When those things come into conflict, that's an opportunity for heroism. Here's what I would have said, "We need single-day voting on Election Day. We need paper ballots, and we need government-issued ID matching the voter file. And if we achieve that, then we have achieved victory, and we should not have any further complaint about election integrity."...So, in – in my capacity as president of the Senate, I would have led through that level of reform, then, on that condition, certified the election results, served it up to the president, President Trump then, to sign that into law, and on January 7th, declared the reelection campaign pursuant to a free and fair election. I think that was a missed opportunity.

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What? This is not a "missed opportunity." It's made-up nonsense. Let's stipulate and set aside what the constitution requires of Vice Presidents during the tabulation of electoral votes. Beyond that, individual states, not the federal government, determine how their elections are administered. Conservatives intensely opposed Democrats' proposed, failed federal takeover of elections for good reason. Second, the notion that the Vice President, as president of the Senate, could have strong-armed the elected members of that body into passing sweeping electoral reform, attracting 60 votes, then sent that bill over to the House (controlled by Democrats at the time) in one day -- as a condition for certifying the presidential election results -- is just deeply divorced from reality.  It represents a profound misunderstanding, or a feigned one, of how our system is set up and how things actually work.  

Finally, and least importantly, the idea that this scheme would have been acceptable to President Trump is also laughable.  Trump didn't want "reforms" to sign into law before leaving the White Hose, he wanted to remain there.  Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Ramaswamy truly believes this alternative course of action is somehow viable as an answer, which I doubt.  Why are we expected to believe that this is what he would have done in Pence's shoes, given his radically different pronouncements about how elections should work at the time:

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This is silver-tongued, choose-your-own-adventure pandering.  It's not serious.  Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose disdain for Ramaswamy on stage was both abundantly evident and mutual, described the Meet the Press response as additional evidence of the businessman's "complete amateur" status:

I'll leave you with the Ramaswamy campaign uncorking a gross "fact check" of Nikki Haley, taking aim at her name.  By all means, push back on a mischaracterization or critique.  But don't do it in the ugly style of The View:


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