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WATCH: Ramaswamy’s top moments on DEI, immigration, tax reform, Jan. 6 at CNN town hall: ‘This is important’

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy appeared in Des Moines, Iowa for a CNN town hall on Wednesday night and not only addressed a broad range of topics but also repeatedly clashed with CNN anchor Abby Phillip. 

Ramaswamy battles CNN's Abby Phillip over Jan. 6

The most contentious moment of the hour-long town hall was when Phillip attempted to grill Ramaswamy over his recent comment referring to Jan. 6 as an 'inside job.'

As Ramaswamy accused the government of systemically lying in recent years and claimed that federal agents were within the crowd on Jan. 6, he mocked Phillip's interruptions as proof that 'the establishment doesn't approve this message.'

'I know it's very uncomfortable for you. I know this is an uncomfortable issue for many people but we have to do the truth here,' Ramaswamy told the CNN anchor. 

Ramaswamy's comments were repeatedly welcomed with applause by the GOP-friendly audience as Phillip continued sparring with the White House hopeful. 

Ramaswamy vows to end birthright citizenship, lays out plan for deportations

Ramaswamy, the son of immigrants, laid out his hard-line immigration policies. He began by repeating his vow to send the military to secure the southern border but quickly pivoted to his proposal to 'ending the illegal incentives to be here.'

'End birthright citizenship for the kids of illegal migrants to whom the 14th Amendment does not apply, end federal funding to sanctuary cities using our own taxpayer money to pay effectively for breaking the rule of law,' Ramaswamy said. 'I do believe that anybody who's in this country illegally needs to be returned to their country of origin. Not because they're all bad people. In fact, many of them are good people… So this is not a value judgment about those people. It's a value judgment about this country. We're founded on the rule of law. And as a father of two sons in the White House, I can't look them in the eye and tell them they have to follow the rules when our own government isn't following its own rules.'

The political outsider explained that he could implement such mass deportations by invoking an obscure law called 287 G he says allows local law enforcement to carry out warrants issued by ICE. He also clarified that ending birthright citizenship of illegal immigrants would take effect after he takes office rather than be retroactively applied to those already born in the U.S. 

Ramaswamy says 'If you hit us, we hit you back ten times harder'

Ramaswamy was asked by an Iowa voter about how he'd be able to balance an authentic approach on the world stage while maintaining a 'presidential demeanor.' He responded by saying he wants to act as president the way he wants his sons to view him. 

'Am I going to tell my kids to go to school and be a bully? No, I'm not. But I'm gonna tell them if somebody bullies you or hits you, you're gonna hit them back ten times harder. And that's the way I'm going to lead this country,' Ramaswamy said. 'As we say in our family- you have to be strong enough to protect your kindness. So if you watch those debates carefully, I don't engage in four-letter words. I mean, there are other candidates who have called me dumb, scum and worse that I'm not going to repeat here. I didn't go after them but if they're gonna come after me, I'm not going to be a president whether it's Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin or anybody else who's going to roll over. When I'm leading the United States, the same rule applies. If you hit us, we hit you back ten times harder.'

Ramaswamy proposes 12% flat tax 

The GOP hopeful was asked about his past support of dramatically increasing the inheritance tax, telling Phillip it's not part of his policy platform. 

'What we need is a 12% flat tax across the board,' Ramaswamy said. 'Ordinary income, capital gain, corporate, flatten it out.' 

'And here is how we get money back for the system: end the croniest deductions, the deductions and the loopholes and the rebates that corporations, special interests have lobbied in. It’s about $700 billion a year, just the tax compliance costs, just the out-of-pocket costs not counting the time you spend preparing your taxes. Give that back to the people,' he continued. 

Ramaswamy says DEI discourages diversity of viewpoints 

Ramaswamy was quick to reject the premise of a question from a Drake University professor who asked how he would promote 'diversity and inclusion' and advance 'underrepresented groups' in his administration and in the private sector. 

'So I think the Diversity Equity Inclusion agenda has been abused. In the name of diversity, we have at many of our universities totally sacrificed diversity of thought,' he said. 'In the name of equity, we've perpetuated a lot of inequity and inequality of opportunity through affirmative action and otherwise. In the name of inclusion, we've created a new culture of exclusion where certain points of view aren't welcome. So especially in a university setting, what do I care about? Diversity of viewpoint. This is important, actually, I think diversity of viewpoint is part of what this country was built on. Well, the best way to foster diversity of viewpoint is to screen candidates for the diversity of their views.' 

He later continued, 'And I think the use of these racial and gender quota systems, I think, have actually created a new form of racism in the United States that otherwise would not have existed. It's sad to me, I mean, I've hired, not because I was thinking about it consciously, plenty of Black women in different positions of authority in this campaign or other companies or whatever. And I can tell you it saddens me when people look at somebody who I hired on the basis of merit and say that they only got that job because of the race or gender. That doesn't do anybody a favor. And so I think if we restore true meritocracy in this country, and embrace true diversity of thought, chances are we're actually going to have a bunch of different shades of melanin and a range of genders in different positions. But let it be not the goal. Let it just be a byproduct of actually selecting for people who are the best person for the job, and especially in a university setting, diverse viewpoints as well. That's what I think.'

Ramaswamy wants to make faith, patriotism ‘cool again’

Ramaswamy rejected the notion that his Hindu faith contradicts the values established by the Founding Fathers, telling an Iowan voter 'we share the same value set in common' before listing several of his values that overlap with Judeo-Christian ones. 

'Would I be the best president to spread Christianity through this country? I would not. I'd be not the best choice for that. But I also don't think that that's the job of the US President,' Ramaswamy said. 'But will I stand for the Judeo-Christian values that this nation was founded on ,that I was raised in even in the Hindu faith? Yes, I will. You're darn right I will.'

'I think it's my responsibility to make faith, and patriotism, and family, and hard work cool again in this country,' he later continued. 'I think they're pretty cool. And I think that's my job. As your next president, to back to the First Amendment, we will stand for religious liberty in a way that neither Republicans nor Democrats actually have. That's what the First Amendment says. You get to practice your faith. Every pastor in this country gets to do his job without the government getting in their way.'

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