GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy traveled to Iowa this week for campaign events where he suggested the U.S. military could be used to hold Mexican drug cartels accountable and stated that he would end affirmative action.
Introduced to the stage by Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, Ramaswamy spoke with voters in the state at a campaign rally in Urbandale on Thursday.
Throughout his conversation with voters, Ramaswamy, a health care and tech sector entrepreneur who announced in February that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination, laid out his agenda for a brighter, more prosperous America.
"I've said that not only will we use the military to secure our own southern border, we will go further," he said. "If we can use our military to take out [Osama] bin Laden or [Ayman] al-Zawahiri or [Qasem] Soleimani or ISIS somewhere else in some other part of the world, then we are ready to use our military to annihilate the Mexican drug cartels south of our own border."
"That is what it means to be an American. We solve that problem," he added.
Ramaswamy's comments come amid nationwide concern over the amount of drugs — especially fentanyl — crossing the border into America. The CDC reported that monthly overdose deaths involving fentanyl for people ages 10 to 19 increased over 180% from 2019 to 2021.
Ramaswamy, a conservative commentator and author who has become a crusader in the culture wars, also said that affirmative action was a "cancer on our national soul" and insisted that if he were to be elected president, he would put an end to it.
"You know what it means to be an American? It means reviving the ideals in that document that we set into motion 250 years ago," he said. "It means, thank you, that you believe in ideals like merit and the pursuit of excellence that we get ahead in this country, not on the color of our skin, but in the content of our character and our contributions."
In announcing his presidential bid, Ramaswamy told Fox News in February that he believes we "need to put merit back into America in every spirit of our lives" and that he would end affirmative action in "every sphere of American life."
"This isn’t just a political campaign; this is a cultural movement to create a new dream for the next generation of Americans," Ramaswamy said in a campaign video announcing his campaign.
Ramaswamy, an Ohio native, said that his campaign is "about the unapologetic pursuit of excellence in our country."
The 37-year-old previously told Fox News Digital that he has a vision about restoring the "national identity in America" and decried the "vacuum" in younger generations who fill the void with "the poison of wokeism and climatism and transgenderism, and COVIDism for that matter."
Fox News' Paul Steinhauser and Joy Addison contributed to this article.