Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley engaged in a contentious debate about the usage of TikTok during Wednesday’s GOP presidential primary, which elevated the discussion to a personal level.
Ramaswamy, known for his provocative statements, targeted Haley for her criticism of his TikTok usage.
He swiped at her, highlighting that while she ridiculed him for joining the Chinese-linked social media app, her daughter had been using it for a long time. Ramaswamy advised Haley to “take care of your family first.”
Haley swiftly fired back, defending her daughter and rebuking Ramaswamy, calling him “scum” and urging him to leave her family out of the debate.
GOP Debate: Nikki Haley vs. Vivek Ramaswamy
The clash arose during a question from NBC moderators about Ramaswamy’s decision to join TikTok, despite previously referring to it as “digital fentanyl” and expressing openness to banning it outright.
Ramaswamy defended his move, emphasizing the importance of reaching younger voters and advocating for a ban on any U.S. company transferring data to China.
Adding a touch of humor, Ramaswamy referred to Haley as “Dick Cheney in three-inch heels,” drawing a parallel between her foreign policy stance and the former vice president’s hawkish worldview. Haley responded with wit, correcting him that her heels were five inches and jokingly challenging him to run in them, asserting they were for ammunition.
Ramaswamy seized the opportunity to fuel rumors about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wearing hidden height boosters, linking it to a dig at Haley’s footwear. This comment added another layer to the already intense exchange on the debate stage.
This is not the first time Ramaswamy has stirred controversy during the GOP primary debates. In a previous confrontation over TikTok, Haley expressed frustration, stating that every time she hears him speak, she feels a bit dumber.
The TikTok debate reflects broader concerns about the app’s security, with bipartisan calls for a potential ban due to allegations of spying and data storage on Chinese servers.
The federal government and numerous state governments have already prohibited employees from using the app on work-issued devices, while investigations by the Justice Department and Congress further escalate the scrutiny on TikTok.
As the GOP presidential hopefuls continue their campaigns, the clash between Ramaswamy and Haley adds an intriguing and personal dimension to the ongoing debates, leaving voters to ponder their policies and their ability to engage in a spirited political discourse.