(JTA) — Vivek Ramaswamy appeared on the podcast of an influencer known for his broadsides against the Jews, including accusing them of owning “almost everything,” in the upstart Republican presidential candidate’s latest dustup involving Jewish issues.
The presidential candidate’s no-holds-barred rhetorical style, borrowed from Republican former President Donald Trump, has given his poll numbers a boost in the GOP primary contest, although Trump remains the frontrunner.
But the spike in the polls has also brought increased scrutiny of the 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur, causing comments and appearances that might have remained under the radar just weeks ago to vault quickly into public view.
That was the case last month after Ramaswamy told an actor and podcaster that he wanted to cut defense assistance to Israel, a country that he says he fervently supports but believes should be able to support itself through improved relationships with Arab neighbors. He walked back those positions after being lambasted by rivals in the GOP primary field.
On Wednesday, the Free Beacon, a conservative news site, singled him out for his appearance the day before on the podcast of Albert Faleski, an influencer known for peddling tropes about Jewish control.
Faleski went on a tear last year after Trump came under fire from Republicans for dining with Kanye West, the rapper who now goes by Ye and who had begun to relentlessly peddle antisemitic content, and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.
In one post at the time, Faleski, who also goes by An0maly, said, “Zionists have the Republican Party by the nuts.” In a separate thread he said Jews pay Black celebrities to attack white people. Jews, he said, were “A group of people who statistically own almost everything convincing the world they are the #1 victim & punching down on other races.”
Ramaswamy greeted Faleski warmly, telling him, “It’s good to be here.” A spokeswoman for his campaign said he was unaware of Faleski’s views on Jews going into the interview. She noted that it was otherwise a contentious interview, with Faleski challenging Ramaswamy over his past work in the biotech industry.
The interview was indeed combative, with Faleski seeking to find contradictions in Ramaswamy’s comments in his past statements on issues including whether he agreed with Trump’s falsehoods about winning the 2020 election. “I’m just not sure which one you actually believe,” Faleski said of the falsehoods and the accurate reporting.
Faleski also asked Ramaswamy about a $50,000 scholarship he accepted when he was 24 from Paul Soros, the late brother of George Soros, the Jewish billionaire and progressive megadonor who is at the center of myriad antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Faleski seemed less interested in the Soros connection than in whether Ramaswamy was exaggerating how needy he was when he applied for the scholarship. Ramaswamy however was at pains to distinguish Paul from George Soros, whom he depicted as a nefarious influence.
“I think the big question that comes up with who’s the bogey man pulling the strings,” Ramaswamy said of George Soros. “I have no tie to George Soros other than criticizing him.”