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Vivek Ramaswamy flip-flops on TikTok

The 38-year-old called the social media app “digital fentanyl” days ago. Now he’s on the platform.

By and

BETTENDORF, Iowa — Days after calling TikTok “digital fentanyl,” Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramasamy has joined the platform. 

“I’m officially on TikTok, we’re going to be on here a lot,” said Ramaswamy in his inaugural video

Just five days earlier, during a town hall in Okoboji, Iowa, Ramaswamy was singing a different tune. Describing the threat posed by China, which has been one of the key themes of his presidential campaign, Ramaswamy said, “This is Xi Jinping’s bet — you’re addicted to me.”

“You’re addicted to the fentanyl that I’m pumping across their southern border. You’re addicted to the digital fentanyl that I’m putting in your kids’ hands,” Ramaswamy exclaimed to a restaurant filled with Iowans.  

Ramaswamy says he was convinced to join the China-owned social media platform by YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul, who persuaded the candidate that he needed to be on TikTok to appeal to young voters.

“In retrospect, it was a little bit of an old-fashioned decision to say that there’s an entire mode of communicating with young people that I was going to turn off,” Ramaswamy said. 

The GOP presidential hopeful said he’s still disturbed about the threat TikTok poses to the United States. “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. 

Ramaswamy thinks he won’t be able to stop TikTok’s danger to American society unless he’s elected president. “I’m never going to be in a position to do that unless we win this election,” he said.

So, for now, he wants to use the platform as a tool to gain entry into the Oval Office. “We’re reaching young people,” Ramaswamy explained on his change of heart. 

When asked by NBC News if he was now producing the “digital fentanyl” he once condemned, Ramaswamy went on the defensive. 

“I’m not producing it. We’re going to speak the truth,” he said. “I’m not going change what I say to anybody.”

But Ramaswamy did change what he said during his speech in Bettendorf, Iowa on Wednesday.  Speaking to a crowd of over 200 Iowans just hours after posting his first TikTok video, Ramaswamy’s description of TikTok as “digital fentanyl” was noticeably absent.  

Another reference to TikTok did make the cut.  

“Sixty — six-zero — percent of Gen Z says that they would sooner give up their right to vote than to give up their access to TikTok,” Ramaswamy said on Thursday, as the audience gasped. It’s a statistic from The Reboot Foundation that Ramaswamy often cites on the trail, and his new foray into TikTok hasn’t removed it from his speech.