Americans deserve a true alternative to Trump. It's time for Vivek Ramaswamy to drop out.

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While watching the latest Republican presidential debate, I wondered why the experience was less painful than the previous few. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley both did their fair share of grandstanding and hurled accusations at each other as they vie for the chance to come second in Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

But then it hit me: I was enjoying myself more because I wasn’t forced to listen to Vivek Ramaswamy this time around. No longer were Americans subjected to the bickering between him and Haley, or his delusional criticisms of American support for Ukraine. The GOP primary race would be better off without his voice going forward, and it starts with Iowa's caucuses.

Dec 6, 2023; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Businessperson Vivek Ramaswamy during the fourth Republican Presidential Primary Debate presented by NewsNation at the Frank Moody Music Building University of Alabama. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY
Dec 6, 2023; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Businessperson Vivek Ramaswamy during the fourth Republican Presidential Primary Debate presented by NewsNation at the Frank Moody Music Building University of Alabama. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY

As a mostly undecided conservative voter, I didn’t mind the crowded field all that much. My hope was that, for the good of the party and country, Republicans would want an alternative to Donald Trump, or at the very least we'd filter out one candidate with a fighting chance at taking him down.

What is Ramaswamy's purpose? Promote Trump.

I figured that as candidates realized they didn’t have a chance, they would bow out, and through that process, those who could actually challenge Trump would elevate themselves. We now have two candidates remaining with outside chances at taking down the former president: Haley and DeSantis.

However, Ramaswamy remains in the race, despite not even qualifying for the most recent debate. The 38-year-old businessman no longer has a purpose in this primary (if he ever did), besides siphoning votes away from DeSantis and Haley of course. His role now is to divide the field, further ensuring a Trump victory in the primary.

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Ramaswamy has spent his entire candidacy for president providing cover fire for Trump. Whether that be urging his fellow candidates to pledge to pardon the former president, vowing to vote for Trump even if he is convicted of any of his 91 criminal charges, or his own decision to remove himself from the Colorado ballot in solidarity with the former president.

Ramaswamy himself has admitted, “I’m not running against President Trump.” Well, if you’re not running against the highest polling candidate in the race, what are you doing in the race?

Ramaswamy's campaign has been one of self-interest

The closest Ramaswamy has come to critiquing Trump is on his electability in a general election.

“If you think they’re going to let this man get anywhere near the White House again, I want you to open your eyes,” Ramaswamy has argued, referencing the criminal cases against Trump, as well as measures in several states to remove the former president from the ballot.

GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to a crowd about eminent domain and carbon capture pipelines Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, at the Iowa State Capitol.
GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to a crowd about eminent domain and carbon capture pipelines Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, at the Iowa State Capitol.

Although Ramaswamy meant this point as an attack against the "deep state," which in his mind is waging a war against his presidential idol, he actually makes an excellent argument.

Trump is unlikely to defeat President Joe Biden given how heavily the deck is stacked against him. Whether it's his own fault or not is a debate Republicans can have among themselves, but all should be able to see that Trump faces an uphill battle to win another term, even if he is the favorite to win the GOP primary.

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However, Ramaswamy is only making this argument for his own self interest, not in America’s interest. If Ramaswamy actually felt that the “movement cannot end with him,” as he said in Iowa last week referring to Trump, then he should be willing to step aside and endorse another Trump challenger who can actually win.

I would have the same criticism against former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had he not dropped out last week (albeit, after overstaying his welcome as well).

Dace Potas
Dace Potas

"Better late than never," Ramaswamy told USA TODAY following Christie’s exit, which is ironically exactly what Americans like me will say when he does the same.

Americans deserve an alternative to Trump in the GOP primary, and we won’t get there if candidates overstay their welcome in the race. Monday’s caucuses will hopefully clarify who the real challenger to Trump is, but we can already tell that person is not Vivek Ramaswamy.

Dace Potas is an Opinion fellow for USA TODAY. A graduate from DePaul University with a degree in political science, he's also president of the Lone Conservative, the largest conservative student-run publication in the country.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ramaswamy's still running? Iowa caucus must take him out of GOP race