Vivek Goes Scorched Earth On CNN, Claims He’s Skipping Their Debate Over ‘Shenanigans’

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Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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While blasting CNN for reportedly peddling debate “shenanigans,” Republican presidential candidate and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy claimed Tuesday that he would be skipping the network’s Iowa debate the same day it announced he did not qualify.

Ramaswamy announced his plans to instead participate in a town hall with Tim Pool on Timcast the night of the debate. The candidate went on to claim that CNN had been causing issues during and since it hosted him for a town hall in December, from allegedly cutting his town hall off early to notifying the campaign that certain polls wouldn’t meet the standards of qualification for their debate.

“On Dec 13, CNN disgracefully cut short its own Iowa town hall with me after I correctly pointed out uncomfortable truths about Jan 6, which CNN instantly dismissed as ‘conspiracy theories,'” Ramaswamy tweeted.

The White House hopeful alleged the network notified him multiple polls “mysteriously wouldn’t count for CNN’s fake ‘debate’ in Iowa on January 10.” The Ramaswamy campaign pointed the Daily Caller to three recent polls which it said CNN would not accept but were eligible under the RNC’s debate standards. The RNC has no formal involvement with CNN’s Iowa or New Hampshire debates.

CNN previously announced on Dec. 7 that the network would be hosting two Republican presidential debates in January in both Iowa and New Hampshire. In anticipation of the Republican National Committee (RNC) releasing candidates from its rule barring them from participating in an non-RNC-sanctioned debate, the network released tough qualification standards, requiring candidates to poll at least 10 percent in three separate national or the respected state surveys. (RELATED: ‘Continually Fail’: GOP To End Debate Season In Disney’s Arms)

Two of the polls, from the Trafalgar Group and the American Research Group, polled the state of New Hampshire and showed Ramaswamy at 10.2 percent and 5 percent, respectively. The American Research Group polled 600 people between Dec. 14 and Dec. 20 and had a margin of error of 4 points. In that poll, Ramaswamy hit 18% amongst GOP primary voters deemed probable voters. The Trafalgar Group surveyed 1098 people between Dec. 9 and Dec. 11 and had a 2.9 percent margin of error.

The third poll from Morning Consult surveyed Iowa and showed Ramaswamy at 13 percent. The survey was conducted between Dec. 1, 2022, to Nov. 30, 2023 and polled 181 people.

The campaign clarified to the Daily Caller that the network told them the polls would not qualify for their respective state, rather than all three for Iowa. The Ramaswamy campaign told the Daily Caller they spoke with CNN on the phone about the polls and were unable to provide any emails to show communication with the network about the poll.

As of Monday, Ramaswamy sits at 4.2 percent nationally, according to the Real Clear Politics average.

CNN pointed the Daily Caller to its qualification standards after being asked about the reported conversation with Ramaswamy’s campaign. None of the polls listed as acceptable were surveys that the Ramaswamy campaign provided to the Daily Caller.

During his town hall with the station, Ramaswamy clashed with CNN anchor Abby Phillip, who pressed the presidential candidate over his earlier remark that Jan. 6 was an “inside job.” When Phillip tried to interrupt the presidential candidate’s response, Ramaswamy hit back saying her answers were proof that “the establishment doesn’t approve this message.” Shortly after the interaction, Ramaswamy claimed the network cut the town hall short.

“We did feel like that town hall was positive, again, the commentary afterward is one thing and the fact that it was cut off five minutes early for no reason is another thing,” Ramaswamy campaign spokesperson Tricia McLaughlin told the Daily Caller. “The [town hall] we felt was something positive and we had positive interactions before and immediately after. It felt like the things that happened [inaudible] were a direct reaction to what happened at that town hall, probably particularly the January 6 stuff, but you know, that’s me. My speculation.”

Ramaswamy also claimed in his tweet that the network on a phone call with his campaign threatened them with a cease-and-desist.

“On Dec 14, CNN then threatened my campaign on the phone with a cease-and-desist & had YouTube black out the town hall after it got 200k+ views on YouTube in a matter of hours. Yet Nikki Haley’s CNN town hall was still up after 6 months,” the candidate tweeted.

CNN rejected a number of Ramaswamy’s accusations, and even released a statement Tuesday asserting that Ramaswamy didn’t qualify for the debate he was now “skipping” to begin with. Former President Donald Trump, who announced he would instead counter-program the debate with a town hall hosted by Fox News that night, former United Nations Ambassador Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were the only three candidates who qualified CNN’s Jan. 10 debate in Iowa.

“The Town Hall was not cut short – it ran the full length – and there was no [cease-and-desist]. Any individual entity cannot upload an hour of content from a cable television channel onto a free platform. These are the same rules that apply to the NFL, Oscars, Game of Thrones, etc. You can’t post an hour of a NFL game, and you can’t post an hour cut from CNN,” a network source told the Daily Caller.

Ramaswamy went on in his tweet to cite various attacks CNN hosts have lobbed at him.

“CNN Senior Media ‘Reporter’ Oliver Darcy wrote a newsletter that castigated his own network for ‘allowing [me] to infect the public with his conspiracy campaign,” the tweet read alongside several other examples. “CNN Commentator Van Jones said he was ‘literally shaking’ when he heard me speak. And my rhetoric is ‘one step away from Nazi propaganda.'”

But even as the White House hopeful continuously rails against CNN’s behavior, the campaign didn’t answer whether Ramaswamy will stop doing events with the network all together and skip the debate in New Hampshire. (RELATED: ABC News To Host Republican Debate Days Before CNN)

“We haven’t really crossed that juncture,” McLaughlin told the Daily Caller. “This was honestly more of a matter of, Tim Pool pulls great numbers and we need to get planning with them. We felt like between kind of the YouTube censorship, so to speak, the legal threat and then the polling moving of the goalposts, we felt alright, we got to move on and Tim Pool was being an honest broker, so we’re moving on with him.”