Protesters angry about Ramaswamy’s Ukraine aid comments ram his empty car in Iowa, campaign says

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Protesters upset about Vivek Ramaswamy’s remarks in opposition to aid for Ukraine yelled and swore at the presidential candidate in Iowa on Thursday before jumping into a vehicle, ramming a campaign car and speeding off, according to his campaign.

Ramaswamy spokesperson Tricia McLaughlin said no one was in the campaign vehicle when it was hit in the central Iowa city of Grinnell, and no one was hurt in the incident. The campaign filed a police report, McLaughlin said.

“Things clearly escalated,” McLaughlin said. “(Ramaswamy) is used to dealing with protesters and handled it very calmly. So he was maybe a little more calm about it than the rest of us.”

Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur and the author of “Woke, Inc.,” was in Grinnell for a scheduled interview with Des Moines’ local CBS affiliate before heading to Des Moines to host a fall-themed, family campaign event. Campaign aides said Ramaswamy planned to go ahead with the event.

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The candidate travels with some private security, but aides declined to elaborate. He does not have a Secret Service detail.

A message left with the Grinnell police chief wasn’t immediately returned Thursday afternoon.

Ramaswamy noted in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the rest of the peaceful protesters shouldn’t be lumped in with the two who were responsible for ramming his campaign vehicle.

“Had a civil exchange with protestors today, right before two of them then got into their car & rammed it into ours,” he wrote. “Those two should be held accountable, but the rest of the peaceful protestors shouldn’t be tarred by the behavior of two bad actors.”

During the first Republican presidential debate of the 2024 campaign, Ramaswamy called it “disastrous” that the U.S. government was “protecting against an invasion across somebody else’s border” and argued Ukraine funding would be better spent on the “invasion of our own southern border.”

Later Thursday, Ramaswamy sent out a fundraising email with details of the crash, asking supporters to “stand for free speech” and help out his campaign.

Grinnell, a small city east of Des Moines, is home to Grinnell College, a small liberal arts school with an enrollment of about 1,700 in Poweshiek County.

Ramaswamy is not the first candidate whose car has been hit while campaigning this election season.

In July, his rival Ron DeSantis was involved in a multicar accident near Chattanooga, Tennessee, en route to a campaign event. The Florida governor was uninjured when traffic on Interstate 75 slowed quickly during busy morning drive time, causing a chain reaction of state-owned vehicles.

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Beck contributed from Omaha, Neb. Associated Press writer Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami contributed to this report.

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