Vivek Ramaswamy: Eight things Republican presidential candidate believes

Vivek Ramaswamy, the 38-year-old biotech multi-millionaire running for US president, has said he wants to ban "addictive" social media for children.

"If you're 16 years old or under, you should not be using an addictive social media product," he said at the second debate between Republican candidates.

With no previous experience of political office, he has positioned himself as an outsider willing to develop former President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda with his own personal spin.

That includes some unconventional proposals on everything from abolishing the FBI to ending military aid to Ukraine. Here are eight things he believes.

1) Ban children from using social media

Mr Ramaswamy has criticised social media platforms and described their products as addictive. He even recently called TikTok "digital fentanyl".

"I worry about the impact that it has on 12 or 13-year-olds that are using this product that they probably shouldn't be," he said.

And during the second Republican debate, he called for a ban on children using the platforms in order to, among other things, "revive... the mental health of this country".

"This isn't a Republican point or a Democrat point," he said.

Mr Ramaswamy, however, has been criticised by his Republican opponents for joining TikTok himself just days after he labelled it "digital fentanyl".

In response, he said the move was an attempt to reach younger voters.

2) The H-1B visa programme should end

Mr Ramaswamy said he wants to "gut" the H-1B visa system, which is used by employers to hire skilled foreign workers in the US.

The visa is open to people with specialised skills and education and is tied to a job offer. It allows foreign employees to live and work in the US for up to six years, after which it can be renewed.

It is also incredibly popular: for 2024, US businesses have already submitted 780,000 visa applications.

Vivek Ramaswamy speaking to supporters
Vivek Ramaswamy speaking to supporters

In a recent statement, Mr Ramaswamy said the visa is "a form of indentured servitude that only accrues to the benefit of the company," and that it needs to be replaced by "meritocratic admission".

Mr Ramaswamy has come under fire for these comments, particularly because he used the same programme to hire workers for his pharmaceutical company, Roivant Sciences.

When asked about this, Mr Ramaswamy said his company played by the current rules of government, and he would reform the visa programme if elected.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services website shows Roivant Sciences has applied for at least 12 visas under the H-1B programme since 2018.

3) The voting age should be raised

Mr Ramaswamy has voiced support for raising the voting age to 25.

But under his proposal, those over 18 would be able to vote if they meet a "national service requirement", either by being an emergency first responder or by serving for at least six months in the military.

"We must think ambitiously about reviving civic duty in America," he said earlier this year.

He suggested that those over 18 would also be able to vote if they pass the same test given to those seeking US citizenship.

"I understand not everyone will like this proposal and that it will take persuasion to convince many of its merits, but I'm ready to take that on," he said.

Raising the voting age would require changing the US Constitution, meaning, among other things, that two-thirds of Congress would need to approve the measure.

4) Ukraine should make major concessions

In a departure from most Western sentiment on the war, Mr Ramaswamy has called for Ukraine to make "major concessions" in order to end the conflict.

"What I think we need to do is end the Ukraine war on peaceful terms that, yes, do make some major concessions to Russia, including freezing those current lines of control in a Korean-war style armistice agreement," he told ABC News in June.

He believes the "number one threat to the US military" is the Chinese-Russian alliance, and so called for "a permanent commitment not to allow Ukraine to enter Nato. But in return, Russia has to leave its treaty and its joint military agreement with China".

Mr Ramaswamy opposes sending aid to Kyiv and instead believes the president should focus on American interests.

"I think that by fighting further in Russia, by further arming Ukraine, we are driving Russia into China's hands." he said.

5) There should be no national abortion ban

Mr Ramaswamy does not support a federal ban on abortion because, in his words, "the federal government should stay out of it".

Republican presidential candidates at the first debate
Mr Ramaswamy was jeered by his rivals in the first debate after saying: "I'm the only person on the stage who isn't bought and paid for!"

He has supported six-week bans on the procedure at state level, however, and described himself as "unapologetically pro-life".

"If murder laws are handled at the state level, and abortion is a form of murder, the pro-life view, then it makes no sense for that to be the one federal law," he told CNN.

6) The FBI should be abolished

Mr Ramaswamy has put forward plans to scrap a number of federal departments including the Department of Education, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI.

"In many cases, these agencies are redundant relative to functions that are already performed elsewhere in the federal government," he told NBC News.

He has proposed a reorganisation in which the FBI's funding would be distributed instead to the Secret Service, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Former President Donald Trump, the current frontrunner to win the Republican nomination, has repeatedly attacked the FBI as being part of a "witch hunt" against him.

And a Fox News poll in June showed public confidence in America's top law enforcement agency had eroded from 80% in 2017 to 59%, mostly among Republicans.

7) The government has told lies about 9/11

Mr Ramaswamy has been widely criticised for remarks he made about the 9/11 attacks in an interview with The Atlantic magazine.

"It is legitimate to say how many police, how many federal agents, were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers," he said.

"Maybe the answer is zero. It probably is zero for all I know, right? I have no reason to think it was anything other than zero," he continued. "But if we're doing a comprehensive assessment of what happened... absolutely that should be an answer the public knows the answer to."

An official bipartisan commission, in a final report published in 2004, established the events of 9/11 and found no evidence of a government plot.

Mr Ramaswamy later said he had been misquoted by the magazine, telling CNN: "The truth is there are lies the government has told about 9/11. But it's not the ones that somebody put in my mouth."

The Atlantic then published audio which showed his comments had been accurately transcribed.

8) The US should end birthright citizenship

Mr Ramaswamy has said he is in line with his Republican rivals on how to tackle undocumented immigration in the US, arguing they support the militarization of the southern border, defunding so-called "sanctuary cities" and ending aid to Mexico and Central America.

But during the second Republican presidential debate, Mr Ramaswamy said he would go a "step further" than other candidates by "ending birthright citizenship for the kids of illegal immigrants in this country".

"Now, the left will howl about the Constitution and the 14th Amendment. The difference between me and them is I've actually read the 14th amendment," he added.

The 14th amendment - approved in 1866 - grants citizenship to people "born or naturalized in the United States". In 1898, the Supreme Court ruled that the amendment applied to any person born in the US regardless of their parents' immigration status.

Mr Ramaswamy has claimed in the past that there are "legally contested questions under the 14th Amendment of whether the child of an illegal immigrant is indeed a child who enjoys birthright citizenship".

At the second debate, he argued children of undocumented immigrants do not deserve citizenship because their parents "broke the law" to come to the US.

(With additional reporting from Nadine Yousif and Madeline Halpert)