But the 38-year-old Ohio-based venture capitalist, whose sharp-elbowed and angry display stood out in the first Republican debate this week, has his own close ties to influential figures from both sides of the political aisle.
Prominent among such connections are Peter Thiel, the co-founder of tech giants PayPal and Palantir and a rightwing mega-donor, and Leonard Leo, the activist who has marshaled unprecedented sums in his push to stock federal courts with conservative judges.
Ramaswamy is a Yale Law School friend of JD Vance, the author of the bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy who enjoyed success in finance before entering politics. At Yale, Vance and Ramaswamy attended what the New Yorker called an “intimate lunch seminar for select students” that was hosted by Thiel. Last year, backed by Thiel and espousing hard-right Trumpist views, Vance won a US Senate seat in Ohio.
Thiel has since said he has stepped back from political donations. But he has backed Ramaswamy’s business career, supporting what the New Yorker called “a venture helping senior citizens access Medicare” and, last year, backing Strive Asset Management, a fund launched by Ramaswamy to attack environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies among corporate investors. Vance was also a backer. [Continue reading…]