Iowa caucus attendees share opinions on Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy

Throughout his presidential campaign, candidate Vivek Ramaswamy traveled to all corners of Iowa to share his political beliefs and gain support for the Iowa caucuses, Jan 15. According to The Des Moines Register, the 38-year-old visited all of Iowa’s 99 counties at least twice and attended 323 of his scheduled public events. 

The Des Moines Register also states that Ramaswamy only had four percent of the votes at the beginning of the race, but after traveling to Iowa, he had gained eight percent of the Republicans’ votes. 

Jacqueline Riekena, a member of Polk County Iowa’s Capital Region Republican Women group and a caucus-goer at the Ramaswamy rally Jan 15, said she became a supporter of the candidate only about three months ago.

“I switched from Trump to Vivek after I asked Trump a direct question, and he couldn’t answer it. It is very important that someone builds the wall, and Trump didn’t get the work I needed to be done. Now, millions are crossing the border. I believe Vivek will take care of that and that in the first six months of his presidency, America will have a secure border,” Riekena said.

To gather information about Ramaswamy and other candidates, Riekena looked at their personal social media accounts. She said she followed Ramaswamy on multiple social media platforms, as well as other Republican candidates, like Nikki Haley and Donald Trump. 

For Riekena, following those platforms helped her see new ideas that were being generated among different candidates. 

However, Ram Venkatachalam, a Ramaswamy supporter, said he came to his conclusions because of his political background.

“I am actively involved in politics. I come from the Commonwealth of Virginia and ran for office locally last year. I am a Republican, but that didn’t necessarily gravitate me towards Vivek. Vivek stands for the exact same reasons I ran for office in Virginia, and I believe Vivek is going to revive this country,” Venkatachalam said. 

Over time, Venkatachalam said he realized that Ramaswamy was a solid candidate. He said he believed a person of this caliber came around once in a lifetime in this country, so this is America’s opportunity to elect someone who can take the country in a positive direction. 

While supporters like Riekena and Venkatachalam hoped for Ramaswamy to finish in the top three, other caucus-goers felt differently about the candidate. 

Paul Golly, a caucus attendee for the past twelve years, said he thought Ramaswamy needed to find his own voice a little more. However, if he was his only choice, Golly said he would still vote for Ramaswamy.

“I don’t have a negative opinion about Vivek. I think he is very enthusiastic, but he needs a little bit more political experience. He flip flops back and forth on a lot of different stuff, and it seems like he is really trying not to make someone angry,” Golly said. 

After placing fourth in the Iowa caucuses with eight percent of voters and three delegates, Ramaswamy announced he would be suspending his campaign.