Vivek Ramaswamy said an angry protester crashed into his car at a campaign event. Police say that’s not what happened. – DAVID RAUDALES


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Vivek Ramaswamy said an angry protester crashed into his car at a campaign event. Police say that’s not what happened.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy participates in a tv interview, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, in Grinnell, Iowa. Ramaswamy’s presidential campaign says protesters upset about his remarks in opposition to aid for Ukraine yelled and swore at him in Iowa before jumping into a vehicle, ramming a campaign car and speeding off.

Owen Barbato/Scarlet & Black via AP

GOP presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy claimed a protester rammed into his car at a campaign stop.
The campaign said the protester flipped off the candidate before hitting their vehicle and fleeing.
Local police said there’s no evidence the crash was intentional and the driver didn’t run.

Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign says at least two protesters, upset about the Republican presidential candidate’s remarks in opposition to aid for Ukraine, purposely rammed his car in Iowa in retaliation on Thursday — but police say there’s no evidence to support the claim that the crash was intentional.

The police account of the crash in the central Iowa city of Grinnell sharply diverged from the story told earlier by Ramaswamy’s campaign, which contended that protesters yelled and swore at the candidate before at least one of them jumped into a vehicle, rammed his empty campaign car, and sped off.

The campaign said no one was injured and that a police report was filed. Representatives for Ramaswamy’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Police say they were dispatched to a coffee shop in the city shortly after 1 p.m. for a report of property damage. While there, they contacted a 22-year-old woman who reported that she had just eaten lunch at a nearby deli and was backing her car out of her parking spot when she accidentally struck a Ford Expedition that was across the street.

Police say the woman told them she was not there protesting anything, had no idea whose vehicle she had hit, did not intentionally cause the crash, and did not flee the scene. They said there is no evidence to substantiate the claim that protesters intentionally hit Ramaswamy’s campaign vehicle and sped off.

Both vehicles had minor damage, police said, and the woman received a traffic summons for unsafe backing.

What Ramaswamy’s campaign says

Ramaswamy spokesperson Tricia McLaughlin told The Associated Press the campaign stands by its assessment that the driver was a protester. She also stood by her assessment that there were two people in the car that hit the campaign car.

“I’m confident of what happened. I was there,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin told the AP earlier in the day in a text message, “It seemed like the protestor couldn’t stay at the event or didn’t want to and wanted to make a statement. (Though I can’t assign motivations.) The driver began to drive off but stopped suddenly after staffers chased after to get insurance information.”

McLaughlin also took to social media to share her outrage, saying in a post on X that police never contacted the campaign about the statement they released about the incident, reiterating her statement that the driver had “yelled “fu** you,” among other profanities, before reverse-ramming their car into ours.”

The post that McLaughlin shared included a video clip and a still from the clip, which highlights the driver of a blue Honda flipping Ramaswamy off behind his back. The 15-second clip is silent except for a brief honking sound at the 9-second mark, and shows Ramaswamy speaking into a cell phone, flanked by staff members on the sidewalk in front of several parked cars.

The driver of the blue Honda briefly raises their middle finger toward Ramaswamy before beginning to back up. Neither the collision nor any swearing or other threatening behavior is shown in the clip shared by the campaign.

Ramaswamy described the crash in a post on X: “Had a civil exchange with protestors today, right before two of them then got into their car & rammed it into ours,” he wrote. “Those two should be held accountable, but the rest of the peaceful protestors shouldn’t be tarred by the behavior of two bad actors.”

Ramaswamy later sent out a fundraising email with details of the crash, asking supporters to “stand for free speech” and help out his campaign.

‘Violent election interference’ or accidental fender bender?

The social posts caught the attention of Ramaswamy critics and sympathizers alike, with some claiming the incident was “violent election interference,” while others questioned how intentional the crash could have been, given the limited damage to the Ramaswamy vehicle. 

“If I was intentionally ramming my car into another car, I think I would leave behind more than some paint and light scratches,” one user posted on X

Even the richest man in the world chimed in: Elon Musk replied to a writer from the Babylon Bee who said the Grinnell police department was being “shady” by declaring the crash unintentional. Musk, who previously declared his support for Ramaswamy, called the incident “very odd.

A woman in Grinnell with the same name as the driver did not immediately respond to a message sent Thursday evening by The Associated Press seeking comment.

Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur and the author of “Woke, Inc.,” was in Grinnell for a scheduled interview with Des Moines’ local CBS News affiliate before heading to Des Moines to host a fall-themed, family campaign event. Campaign aides said Ramaswamy planned to go ahead with the event.

The candidate travels with private security, but aides declined to elaborate. He does not have a Secret Service detail.

—Tricia McLaughlin (@TriciaOhio) October 6, 2023


Grinnell, a small city east of Des Moines, is home to Grinnell College, a small liberal arts school with an enrollment of about 1,700 in Poweshiek County.

Ramaswamy is not the first candidate whose car has been hit while campaigning this election season.

In July, Ron DeSantis was involved in a multi-car accident near Chattanooga, Tennessee, en route to a campaign event. The Florida governor was uninjured when traffic on Interstate 75 slowed quickly during busy morning drive time, causing a chain reaction of state-owned vehicles.

Read the original article on Business Insider