Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was accused of plagiarizing one of Barack Obama’s signature speeches during his remarks at Wednesday’s Republican presidential primary debate in Wisconsin.
During the debate, Mr Ramaswamy responded to a question about his political newcomer status, telling the crowd, “Let me just address the question that is on everybody’s mind at home tonight.”
“Who the heck is this skinny guy with a funny last name and what the heck is he doing in the middle of this debate stage?” he continued.
Observers quickly pointed out how this remark sounded similar to Barack Obama’s career-making 2004 speech as a Senate hopeful at the Democratic National Convention, a famous address where Mr Obama spoke of his patriotism and the “hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.”
“‘Skinny guy with a funny name’ sounds very….Obamaesque,” former Biden administration press secretary Jen Psaki wrote on X about Mr Ramaswamy’s debate comments.
The issue came up onstage as well.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie made the comparison to the Obama speech as well, remarking, “I’m afraid we’re dealing with the same type of amateur standing on the stage tonight.”
Mr Ramaswamy responded with a jab of his own, saying, “Give me a hug just like you did Obama.”
Former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy is seen debating on screens in the media filing center at the first Republican candidates' debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (REUTERS)
Other candidates made similar attacks on Mr Ramaswamy, a wealthy businessman and entrepreneur who has seen a recent rise in national polls over other better-known candidates like former vice president Mike Pence.
The former vice president accused Mr Ramaswamy of being a “rookie.”
“When I was the leader of the House conservatives, I balanced budgets and cut taxes when I was governor. Joe Biden has weakened this country at home and abroad,” he said. “Now is not the time for on-the-job training. We don’t need to bring in a rookie.”
Mr Ramaswamy responded that now “everybody’s gotten their memorized, pre-prepared slogans out of the way we can actually have a real discussion now”.
“You have a bunch of people, professional politicians, super PAC puppets following slogans handed over to them by their ... Super PACs last week,” he added. “The real choice we face in this primary is this – Do you want a super PAC puppet? Or do you want a patriot who speaks the truth? Do you want incremental reform, which is what you’re hearing about, or do you want revolution? I stand on the side of the American Revolution.”