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Ramaswamy praises protester who interrupted campaign event with comments on rape and abortion

“I want to give her a chance to speak,” the GOP presidential candidate said.

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OTTUMWA, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy invited a protester who was being shown the door at a campaign event Monday to return and engage with him on the issue of rape and abortion.

Kayla Crist, of Stanwood, Iowa, first interrupted Ramaswamy's remarks by shouting "protect our women" and "Republicans are raping people," prompting a small group to try to get her to leave.

As she started walking toward the exit, Ramaswamy encouraged her to come back and finish her remarks. “I want to give her a chance to speak,” he said.

“If somebody non-consensually rapes me, I’m not having their child,” said Crist, who noted she's a mother, while wiping away tears and walking closer to the stage. “It’s my choice, it’s my body.”

During their exchange, Ramaswamy said that as a mother, Crist was "doing one of the most important things." He also praised her "courage" for speaking out.

“I want to say you’re doing one of the most important things...a mother raising more children in this world. Even if we have our disagreements, I want to say thank you for that. So thank you,” Ramaswamy said.

“And part of what it means to live in this country is we have free speech, we get to speak our minds openly, even if we all don’t agree on it," he added. "So, let’s actually applaud her for the courage, coming into a room and asking a question even though we don’t agree on everything, OK?”

Ramaswamy has said “unborn life is life,” but does not support a federal abortion ban.

Crist, who spoke to NBC News after the event but declined to reveal her party affiliation, said she had not planned to interrupt the event in Ottumwa, which is about 125 miles from Stanwood.

According to NBC News’ most recent polling, support for Ramaswamy among Republican primary voters was about 3 percent in June.