Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy fired back at his primary rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, suggesting he's a "super PAC puppet" after a leaked memo outlined attacks towards the political outsider ahead of next week's GOP debate.
On Thursday, The New York Times reported on a document released by a communications firm associated with the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down super PAC that outlined debate strategy, which included taking aim at Ramaswamy.
"1. Attack Joe Biden and the media 3-5 times. 2. State GRD’s positive vision 2-3 times. 3. Hammer Vivek Ramaswamy in a response. 4. Defend Donald Trump in absentia in response to a Chris Christie attack," the memo read, according to the Times.
The Times later reported, "the memo lists ‘potential Orchestra Pit Moments,’ beginning with one drama-making opportunity, complete with a recommendation for a Trump-style insult: 'Take a sledgehammer to Vivek Ramaswamy: ‘Fake Vivek’ Or ‘Vivek the Fake.’"
Ramaswamy reacted to the Times report during his appearance on Fox News' "America Reports."
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"Well, look, I think the GOP sometimes when you have professional politicians, they use attacks on other candidates as a substitute for a message of their own. I'm in this race focused on the message of my own rather than attacking those other candidates," Ramaswamy said. "The truth is, I'm an outsider. I'm not a professional politician. I think we have a choice between super PAC puppets who are being propped up with prepped lines and millions of dollars to go along with it versus in my case, I'm an outsider. I think of myself as a patriot who speaks the truth."
"And I also think there's a deeper choice in this primary. Do you want incremental reform? I think a lot of establishment politicians can offer incremental reform of the administrative state or declaring independence from our enemies on the global stage, including the likes of China. Do you want incremental reform or do you want revolution?" he continued. "And I stand on the side of the American Revolution, those values that set this nation into motion 250 years ago. So I do think that's threatening to a number of other candidates in this race. But the reality is I'm not focused on them. I'm focused on what we actually stand for. And that's how we're going to win this election in a landslide."
He also took a swipe against the governor on social media in reaction to the Times report, writing "Another boring, establishment attack from Super PAC-creation ‘Robot Ron’ who is literally taking lame, pre-programmed attack lines against me for next week’s debate."
DeSantis campaign communications director Andrew Romeo told Fox News Digital, "This was not a campaign memo, and we were not aware of it prior to the article. We are by now well accustomed to the attacks from all sides as the media and other candidates realize Ron DeSantis is the strongest candidate best positioned to take down Joe Biden."
Ramaswamy saw the biggest growth of support in the latest Fox News national poll released Wednesday, earning more than double the support he had in June from 5% to 11%. This marks the first time a third candidate outside of DeSantis and former President Trump has earned double-digit backing in the Fox News national poll.
Trump, meanwhile, maintains his dominant lead with 53% support, a dip from the 56% he had in June. DeSantis also lost some ground, losing six points since June and settling with 16%. All other candidates are not polling higher than 5%.
Ramswamy and DeSantis are among eight candidates who have qualified for next week's debate. Joining them are former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
Trump has yet to decide whether he will appear on the Milwaukee debate stage.