The exchange came after Ramaswamy offered his stance on TikTok, the social media platform that's been banned on government-issued devices
Nikki Haley did not hold back when sparring with fellow Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy during Wednesday's primary debate, telling the tech entrepreneur at one point, "Every time I hear you I feel a little bit dumber."
The exchange came after Ramaswamy, 38, offered his stance on TikTok, the social media platform that's been banned on government-issued devices (and statewide in Montana) over security concerns due to the company's ties to China.
"We need to win elections and part of how we win elections is reaching the next generation of young Americans where they are," Ramaswamy said during the debate, suggesting he would be open to using TikTok as a platform to connect with younger voters.
That's when Haley, 51, interjected, saying, "I have to jump in."
"This is infuriating because TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media assets that we could have and what you've got, honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say," Haley added. "150 million people are on TikTok. That means they can get your contacts, they can get your financial information, they can get your emails, they can get say text messages, they can get all of these things."
Offered the chance to respond, Ramaswamy said, "I think we would be better served as a Republican Party if we're not sitting here hurling personal insults and actually have a legitimate debate about policy following Reagan's 11th amendment in his honor."
He continued: "And the answer is that is what actually makes our country strong. And I believe in these people, these are good people on the stage. They disagree, but let's have a legitimate disagreement."
Ramaswamy was relatively unknown in the political world — at least, nationally — before entering the Republican race. Since announcing his campaign, he's garnered headlines for being outspoken against companies using their platforms for social causes and has criticized things like critical race theory, diversity programs and efforts to stop climate change.
He's also been criticized for being, as some have opined, annoying.
Ramaswamy himself seemingly acknowledged some of that criticism on the debate stage Wednesday, saying, "I'm the new guy here and so I know I have to earn your trust. What do you see? You see a young man who's in a bit of a hurry, maybe a little ambitious, bit of a know it all it seems at times ... I'm here to tell you no, I don't know it all. I will listen."
Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump from January 2017 until her resignation in December 2018.
Since leaving his administration, she has both embraced and pushed back against Trump, at one point calling his rhetoric "so unnecessary" and at another saying he "tells the world what it needs to hear."
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