Video of Ramaswamy-Sharpton Exchange in 2003 Resurfaces

Ramaswamy, them 18, had a question for then-presidential candidate
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2023 4:26 PM CDT

In October 2003, an 18-year-old Harvard University student had a question for the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. "Of all the Democratic candidates out there, why should I vote for the one with the least political experience?" asked Vivek Ramaswamy. Video of the exchange from a town hall on MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews has resurfaced and gone viral now that Ramaswamy, 38, is running for president as a Republican and facing similar questions, the Hill reports. The biotech entrepreneur's campaign is getting more attention after last week's debate, NPR reports.

Sharpton, then 49, told the young Ramaswamy that he in fact had the "most political experience" of any Democratic candidate. "I got involved in the political movement when I was 12 years old, and I have been involved in social policy for the last 30 years," he said. The civil rights activist added that just because somebody has a job or a title, it "doesn't mean that they have political experience, and it doesn't mean they have experience to run the United States government." The president at the time, George W. Bush, "was a governor and clearly has shown he doesn't have political experience," said Sharpton, who dropped his White House bid in March 2004.

After the clip resurfaced, Ramaswamy praised his younger self. "I'll give the 18-year-old version of myself a pat-on-the-back for eliciting the most sensible words ever to come from that man's mouth," he tweeted Monday night. Philip Bump at the Washington Post notes that as years go by, it will become more and more common for candidates to encounter online video of their remarks from decades earlier. "A 37-year-old candidate running for the presidency in 2044 will have grown up entirely in the iPhone era," he writes. "Good luck to her, escaping her past comments." (More Vivek Ramaswamy stories.)

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