Republican 2024 presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson on Sunday criticized fellow GOP candidate Vivek Ramaswamy for remarks he made about Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), comparing her to leaders of the KKK.
“Whenever I hear Mr. Ramaswamy talk about this issue, he’s not really looking at real life in America,” Hutchinson said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked to respond to Ramaswamy’s downplaying of white supremacy.
Ramaswamy during a Friday campaign rally characterized remarks by Pressley and progressive author Ibram X. Kendi as racist when asked if he was concerned that liberals painted him as a “white supremacist,” according to a report by the Huffington Post. He responded by using examples of remarks by Pressley and Kendi and compared them to “grand wizards in the KKK.”
Earlier on the show, Ramaswamy stood by those remarks and invoked comments made by Pressley in 2019, in which she said, “We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice … We don’t need any more Black faces that don’t want to be a Black voice.”
Her spokesperson later clarified to say Pressley, who is Black, was making the point that “diversity at the table doesn’t matter if there’s not real diversity in policy.”
Ramaswamy also on Sunday blamed what he called the “modern left” for racism in the U.S. and for racism he has experienced as an Indian American.
In the interview Sunday, Hutchinson tied in Ramaswamy’s remarks about the KKK to his proposal to raise the voting age to 25, with exceptions for those who have served in the military. He stressed that Ramaswamy’s proposal runs counter to the promise espoused by Martin Luther King Jr., whose famous “I Have a Dream” speech is nearing its 60-year anniversary on Aug. 28.
“The other thing that I’m concerned about is Dr. King’s 60th anniversary of his speech, and he was about expanding the voting base,” Hutchinson said of King. “Mr. Ramaswamy wants to shrink the voting base and say those that are 18 years of age to 25 can’t vote.”
“And to me, that was totally the wrong direction to bring young people in our party and set an example of where we need to move in our democracy and participation. So I think those are really important points to make today at the near this anniversary of Dr. King’s speech,” he continued.