Former US ambassador to the UN and 2024 Republican Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley speaks during the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on August 12, 2023. Image: Stefani Reynolds / AFP O
n Friday morning, Elon Musk posted ‘He is a very promising candidate’, about an Indian American who is the youngest Republican presidential candidate ever. The X (formerly Twitter) owner was talking about Vivek Ramaswamy, who is one of three Republican candidates for the US Presidency 2024 of Indian origin.They will compete in the Republican primaries, and against other prominent Republicans including Donald Trump, for the presidency. Let’s take a look at who they are.
Nimrata Nikki Haley, former Republican governor from South Carolina, is so far the only prominent woman in the Grand Old Party’s (GOP’s) presidential field, and the only woman of colour in the race. Haley positions herself as the result-oriented underdog who isn’t interested in being vice-president. “I don’t run for second,” she says.
Haley is one of four children born to “the only Indian American family in town”, back in 1972 Bamberg, South Carolina. Her parents, Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur Randhawa, are Indian immigrants from Punjab who both worked as teachers and owned a clothing boutique. Haley was raised Sikh, before she married her husband, Michael, in 1996 and converted to Christianity. Michael Haley is a captain in the South Carolina Army National Guard, and has previously been deployed in Afghanistan. The couple has two children, Rena and Nalin. In 2004, she won a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, and came into focus in 2010 when she ran for governor and won. In 2016, President Donald Trump nominated Governor Haley to serve as the US Ambassador to the United Nations.
In this role, she supported the US’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, but ran against President Trump with her stance against Russia’s meddling in the elections. She is against abortion, advocates to ‘fix the broken immigration system’ and make legal immigrants feel welcome, has opposed to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and is pushing for lower taxes. Hirsh Vardhan Singh became the third Indian-origin candidate to announce his candidacy.
Hirsh Vardhan Singh
On July 28, Hirsh Vardhan Singh became the third Indian-origin candidate to announce his candidacy. Singh was born to Indian immigrants in Atlantic City, and his father runs a defence, satellite navigation and aviation security business.
Singh himself is an aeronautical engineer turned politician. He joined the fray as a New Jersey governor candidate in 2017, with a $1 million boost from his father. He has later run for US Senate and Congress in 2018, US Senate in 2020 and even as governor in 2021, all of which were unsuccessful bids.
Singh positions himself as a hardline Republican, and has said that Donald Trump has been ‘the greatest president’ of his lifetime. He proudly displays a label once given to him by the New Jersey Democrat Senate President: Trump on Steroids.
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He garnered attention for a comment on how he is the only ‘pure-blooded candidate’, because he has not taken the Covid-19 vaccine.
He is anti-vaccine, pro-life, for lower taxes, and talks about the threat of indoctrination at schools, saying he would withhold federal funds from schools that ‘practice viewpoint or political discrimination’.
He advocates for greater government control in Big Tech, and for the right to carry firearms. US entrepreneur and 2024 Presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to attendees at Jalapeno Peteís at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on August 11, 2023. Image: Stefani Reynolds / AFP
Vivek Ramaswamy is an entrepreneur, and co-founder of Strive Asset Management, propositioned as the ‘anti-woke’, ‘anti-ESG’ fund. He was born in Cincinnati to Indian immigrant parents from Kerala; his father worked as an engineer and patent attorney, while his mother worked as a geriatric psychiatrist.
Ramaswamy rose to prominence in political circles because of his conservative, anti-woke activism. He has not held a political leadership position yet.
Ramaswamy calls himself a proud Hindu, and is a vocal Donald Trump supporter. On his website, he lists one of his main positions as “Drill, frack & burn coal: abandon the climate cult & unshackle nuclear energy”, and that “capitalism lifts people up from poverty”. He supports gun rights and same-sex marriage, and would like for the US to dissociate from China and its businesses entirely.
Forbes estimated his net worth to be $630 million, wealth that came from his financial and biotech businesses.