NASHUA, NH — Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has a list of ten different “truths” that form the backbone of his campaign speech. The first: «God is real.»
Now some voters are asking to know more about that.
Ramaswamy is only the second prominent Hindu to run for president, after the then representative. Tulsi Gabbard sought the Democratic nomination in 2020. As the first-time candidate wins the attention of a portion of Republican voters in early voting states, Ramaswamy is being questioned about the role her faith will play in her campaign, and meaning. that her religion is different from that of the evangelical Christians who play an outsized role in deciding Republican primaries.
A central part of Ramaswamy’s message is to talk about God and religion. At a town hall in Nashua Tuesday night, a voter asked the candidate, «How does your belief in your God influence policies that were originally based on belief, fear, and obedience to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?»
Ramaswamy responded by saying: “Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values, there is no question about that. It is a historical fact.»
Ramaswamy told the audience that while he is not a Christian, he can lead this country because «we share the same values, the same Judeo-Christian values in power.» He added: «I’m not running to be chief pastor, I’m running to be our commander in chief.»
The Republican Party’s base is heavily Christian and evangelical: Among self-identified Republicans nationally, 56% described themselves as evangelical Christian, according to the most recent NBC News poll.
It’s an especially key voting bloc in the state of Iowa, the first in the nation, where previous GOP winners like Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz outscored evangelicals by double digits en route to victory, a even though other candidates outnumbered them among the non-evangelical minority of Iowa Republican caucus attendees, according to NBC News exit polls.
Ramaswamy is averaging around 5% support in national polls for Republican primaries, according to the Average of five thirty-eight. It’s presenting voters with a travel-heavy program, but it’s also running advertising, spending around $1.5 million so far, according to AdImpact.
Faith is a topic that Ramaswamy often mentions at different campaign stops. He believes this country is in the midst of a «national identity crisis,» he says frequently, lamenting that faith, patriotism, hard work and family «have disappeared, only to be replaced by new secular religions in this country.» «. wake-ism” and “Covid-ism” among others.
In New Hampshire on Tuesday, Ramaswamy told voters they had to choose when they voted.
“Do you want someone who lives by those values and shares those values and governs by those values even if they don’t check the Christian name box? Or do you want someone who is a Christian by name but in no sense lives by those values? Ramaswamy says.
Earlier in the day, Ramaswamy made another pitch for support for evangelical Christians when he went to the Iowa State Capitol to show support for the 6-week abortion ban passed by Republican lawmakers in a special session. NBC News asked Ramaswamy if he sees his Hindu faith as a potential stumbling block as he campaigns in a deeply Christian state.
“I am a person of faith. Evangelical Christians across the state are also people of faith,” she said. “We find common ground in our need to defend religious liberty, defend faith and patriotism, and unapologetically defend the fact that we are one nation under God.”
David Henry, a radio host who attended a Ramaswamy campaign event in Ottumwa, Iowa on Monday, is still deciding who will participate. The fact that Ramaswamy is religious is important to him, but Henry said he doesn’t care so much what religion Ramaswamy practices.
«Personal faith is personal faith,» says Henry. «The fact that you can have faith in something more powerful than yourself says a lot.»