I Deeply Regret Ever Wishing a Millennial Would Run for President

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy raps at the end of a Fair-Side Chat with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds at the State Fair on Saturday.Jeff Roberson/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.With the 80-year-old current president and the oft-indicted former president and GOP hopeful most likely to face him in the general election a mere three years younger, it’s easy to pine for a more youthful option. Gen X would do. A millennial might be better.
Unfortunately, the only choice is this guy.

Vivek raps to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” (he told Gov. Reynolds it’s his favorite walk-out song) after his fair side chat here in Iowa: pic.twitter.com/wQTnb41CVd
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) August 12, 2023

Vivek Ramaswamy, the self-funding, 38-year-old, Republican contender, has been an amateur emcee since his days at Harvard, where he went by the stage name Da Vek. After college, he made a fortune in pharmaceuticals before pivoting to being an anti-woke talking head in the lead-up to the campaign. His appearance at the Iowa State Fair is an obligatory part of the pandering that presidential candidates must perform every four years.
So Ramaswamy’s cover on Saturday of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”—which begins by asking what you would do if you had one “opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted”—is less floridly embarrassing than many gaffes and earnest efforts happening on the GOP campaign trail, including seemingly every attempt Gov. Ron DeSantis makes at small talk. (The Florida governor was greeted at the fair by a Jeb Bush-inspired plane flying a banner that read “Be likeable, Ron!”)
The rap was the finale to Ramaswamy’s “Fair-Side Chat” with Gov. Kim Reynolds, who also hosted former Vice President Mike Pence and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. In contrast to Ramaswamy, DeSantis remained seated for his talk with Reynolds, which included questions of such geopolitical urgency as being asked to describe a recent funny moment from the campaign. Far from being a natural comedian, DeSantis offered a meandering story about playing catch with his son on the trail. The punchline came when his son reportedly asked him: “Daddy, is this heaven?”
“No, son,” DeSantis responded, evidently eager even for the vote of his four-year-old Floridian. “It’s Iowa.”
Reynold’s followed up by asking DeSantis to name the best thing he’d eaten so far at the state fair. The governor explained that he hadn’t tried anything yet because he’d been told to be careful about being photographed eating in public. He added that he’d likely try one of his and his kids favorites: deep-fried Oreos. (DeSantis previously caught flak for telling an Iowa youth that his Icee probably had a lot of sugar in it.)
With the bar for garden variety charisma and normalcy set so low, millennial Ramaswamy came across…fine. He speaks with the relative confidence of centi-millionaire who doesn’t think he’s always one bite—sound or otherwise—from self-humiliation. 
What makes the rapping bit especially craven, however, is how it fits with the rest of Ramaswamy’s tech-right platform. The man at the mic is the same candidate who wants to block people from voting until they are 25 unless they are in the military, a first responder, or can pass the citizenship test given to people born outside the country. 
This is not something his older rivals have pushed. For all the posturing, it seems like a perfectly Republican paradox that the only millennial candidate is unusually interested in having fewer young people show up at the polls.
Meanwhile, the 77-year-old on track to prevail over DeSantis Ramaswamy has arrived at the fair. 

Seen from the #IowaStateFair ferris wheel: @realDonaldTrump arrives behind packed/overflowing Steer and Stein, waves to crowd, signs and tosses out hats. pic.twitter.com/Wyy7GmqlMx
— Amie Rivers (@amierrivers) August 12, 2023