GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy had a contentious exchange Wednesday with CNN’s Don Lemon over a recent accusation Ramaswamy made about Democrats during a National Rifle Association event.
Speaking to the pro-Second Amendment audience in Indianapolis last Friday, Ramaswamy first mentioned that after the Civil War, efforts were made to disarm freed Black people, often in the form of Black Codes in ex-Confederate states.
“The Democrat[ic] Party, then as in now, wanted to put them back in chains,” he then claimed.
CNN This Morning co-host Poppy Harlow asked Ramaswamy if he was referring to President Joe Biden.
Yes, clarified the Woke Inc. author, who asserted that “the very policies that we implemented in this country in the name of helping Black Americans have actually been disastrous for Black Americans and for all Americans.”
Ramaswamy also brought up an eleven-year-old remark Biden made about Mitt Romney that Harlow seemed to think was a confused attempt to explain his choice of words at the NRA gathering.
“I was referring to Joe Biden’s I think ill-chosen expression to say they’re the party that wants to put you back into chains,” Ramaswamy said. (In 2012, then-Vice President Biden criticized Mitt Romney’s plan to “unchain” Wall Street, telling a racially diverse audience, “He’s going to put you all back in chains” with his policies.)
Lemon, stepping in, shifted gears, telling Ramaswamy that it was “infuriating” to listen to his focus on guns in the broader context of civil rights.
“You’re making people think that the Civil War was fought for Black people—only for Black people to get guns,” Lemon said, adding later: “It’s reductive and I think it’s insulting. There are a whole plethora of reasons for the Civil War.”
Ramaswamy persisted, telling Lemon that “with due respect, I find your explanation reductive and actually insulting.” He continued: “Black people secured their freedoms after the Civil War—and it’s a historical fact, Don, just study it—only after their Second Amendment rights were secured,” he declared.
A clearly frustrated Lemon strongly disagreed, noting later in the back-and-forth that “the whole reason that the civil rights movement happened was because Black people did not secure their freedoms after the Civil War.” At one point he can be heard telling producers, “I cannot keep a thought if you guys are talking in my ear.”
At another point in the discussion, Lemon said to Ramaswamy: “When you are in black skin and you live in this country, then you can disagree with me.” Ramaswamy took issue with that comment while on air and in a video posted on Twitter shortly after.