February 22, 2024

Presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy make no secret of their dislike for each other, and their animosity came to a head at the Republican debate on Wednesday. Haley muttered under her breath that her rival was “just scum.”

Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur known for making outrageous statements, provoked groans from the audience during a discussion on banning TikTok when he mentioned that Haley’s daughter had used the Chinese short video app.

Ramaswamy also brought up Haley’s family as part of one of his arguments. “[Haley] made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her daughter was using the app for a long time,” Ramaswamy said.

“So you might want to take care of your family first before preaching to anyone else,” he told Haley, a former US ambassador to the United Nations and a former governor of South Carolina.

“Leave my daughter out of your voice,” Haley shot back, adding under her breath, “You’re just scum.”

Not the first time

It was not the first time Haley, a foreign policy hawk, and Ramaswamy, an anti-interventionist on foreign conflicts, have clashed over TikTok. “Every time I hear you I feel a little bit dumber,” Haley said after they crossed swords about the app during a previous encounter in September.

On social media platform X, Haley’s son, Nalin Haley, said Ramaswamy’s attack was “desperate,” adding that his sister’s TikTok account was deleted a “very very long time ago.”

Haley is vying with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to become the top challenger to runaway favorite Donald Trump in the Republican nominating contest. Ramaswamy, a relative unknown at the start of the year, gained buzz earlier this year but appears to have since lost momentum.

Ramaswamy’s opposition, Haley, takes a very different media approach than her 38-year-old counterpart. The former US ambassador to the United Nations makes a more apparent effort to not appear on extremist right-wing media platforms.

Ramaswamy cannot say the same, as he frequents stations like Fox News and his podcast, “TRUTH,” where he interviews ultra-conservative figures.

The two came from similar backgrounds yet still vastly different experiences. Both the children of Indian immigrants, she attended Clemson University of South Carolina and he attended Harvard and Yale. She’s considered part of the “New South,” as US media portrays, and he’s a story of a midwestern boy from Ohio.

“At 51, Haley is the dutiful Gen X candidate. And Ramaswamy is the best-in-class, wise-guy millennial,” POLITICO wrote this week.