“I’m on TikTok now.”
Ramaswamy credited social media personality Jake Paul with changing his mind about TikTok and said his new account is part of his campaign’s mission to reach and “energize young people.”
“Yes, kids under age 16 shouldn’t be using it, but the fact is that many young voters are & we’re not going to change this country without winning,” Ramaswamy posted on X, formerly Twitter. “We can’t just talk about the importance of the GOP ‘reaching young voters’ while hiding in our own echo chambers.”
Age has become a major theme of the 2024 election, with concerns on both sides of the aisle about President Joe Biden, 80, and former President Donald Trump, 77, both running for another term. At 38, Ramaswamy is the youngest presidential candidate and has leaned into this status to attract the next generation of voters.
But is it working?
Some Republicans in their twenties and thirties told USA TODAY they are concerned about the age of some of the older presidential candidates, and they like that Ramaswamy is from a younger generation. But with his age also comes less political experience, they warn.
Ramaswamy’s campaign has cautious success with young Republicans
A political newbie, Ramaswamy has shot to third among GOP candidates in multiple national polls on the Republican primary field.
Amid his campaign’s growing success, Ramaswamy has been especially strong at marketing himself to younger generations, said Lauren Langas, vice chairwoman of the Texas Young Republicans.
“There are a lot of younger voters who are kind of concerned. We continue to elect men that are much, much older, the stamina may or may not be there,” Langas told USA TODAY.
Rafael Struve, communications director for the Texas Young Republicans and a supporter of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, said Ramaswamy might ease some of these concerns for young voters.
“He’s a millennial, and he’s the only millennial that is in the race,” Struve said. “The youth factor is something that is relatable to younger voters because they are nervous about the idea of having somebody who is older and might be more susceptible to health complications during their time in office.”
But all younger voters aren’t head-over-heels just because Ramaswamy is closer to their age. His lack of previous political experience may also be a deterrent, Langas said.
In a survey by YouGov conducted last month, though, just 5% of voters 18 to 29 years old said they would vote for Ramaswamy. Of that same group, 37% said they would vote for Trump and 20% for runner up DeSantis.
“When he’s onstage and he’s making jokes and he’s quipping back and forth,” Langas said of Ramaswamy’s debate performance last month. “I also want to make sure that our age range and our demographic is actually being well represented. Is he going to quip just because it’s the presidential debate, or is he going to quip if he’s doing a foreign policy discussion with an elected official from another country if he were to be president.”
And Ramaswamy has also called for raising the legal voting age from 18 to 25, unless a person meets certain credentials such as passing a citizenship test or serving in the U.S. armed forces.
Before entering the race for president in February, Ramaswamy worked as a biotech entrepreneur and investor. He made a nod to his background in his second video posted to TikTok.
“The reason professional politicians don’t want to talk to young people on social media is that they’re scared of unscripted conversations,” Ramaswamy said. “Well, good thing I’m not a professional politician.”
Ramaswamy makes intentional appeal to Gen Z, millennial voters
Ramaswamy has used his millennial advantage out on the campaign trail, including at the Iowa State Fair in August, where he rapped along to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” The stunt wasn’t immediately appreciated by the rapper himself, and BMI, a licensing organization that oversees public performance of his songs, delivered a cease-and-desist letter to the Ohio Republican.
But fairgoer and campaign volunteer Katie Howard told the Des Moines Register Ramaswamy had a unique appeal to a younger audience among his 2024 Republican rivals at the event.
“I worked that booth for several hours and I haven’t seen that many young people approach a political stand ever,” Howard said at the time.
Still, Trump, who will be 78 by next November, is the clear frontrunner among Republicans as a whole. A Real Clear Politics average of Republican primary polls shows Trump has garnered 56.1% support, compared to Ramaswamy’s 6.6%.
And maybe an even greater threat to Ramaswamy’s campaign with young conservatives? That’s DeSantis. At 45 and with over a decade of experience in office, the Florida governor may offer young voters a middle ground option. The Florida governor can still speak to the experiences of younger voters, while bringing some job training.
“We have a real chance to accomplish a lot of the things that the Make America Great Again movement wanted to accomplish, through somebody who has shown that he can get it done and has the youth, stamina and endurance to actually get it done in Gov. Ron DeSantis,” said Struve.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vivek Ramaswamy joins TikTok in pitch to young 2024 Republican voters
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