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Vivek Ramaswamy slams TV ads as campaign stops showing them in Iowa and New Hampshire

Vivek Ramaswamy‘s presidential campaign has not run a television advertisement in the early contest states of Iowa or New Hampshire in over a week, and the candidate vying for the 2024 Republican nomination is now slamming spending on presidential television ads as “idiotic.”

Ramaswamy on Tuesday posted on X that presidential TV spending had a “low ROI,” or return on investment, and “a trick that political consultants use to bamboozle candidates who suffer from low IQ.”

“We’re doing it differently. Spending $$ in a way that follows data…apparently a crazy idea in US politics. Big surprise coming on Jan 15,” Ramaswamy posted.

Tricia McLaughin, a spokesperson for the campaign, confirmed to CBS News last week that the operation has not run television ads in Iowa or New Hampshire since Sunday, Dec. 17.

The move could ring some alarm bells as campaigns approach a critical juncture with less than 30 days until the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and Ramaswamy specifically seeks to outperform low expectations indicated by current poll numbers which show him drastically trailing his opponents in both states. The Iowa caucus will be held on Jan. 15 and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23.

Former President Donald Trump, who leads the Republican primary field, responded to Ramaswamy’s campaign going dark on TV ads on Tuesday. He posted on his social media platform that Ramaswamy “will, I am sure, Endorse me. But Vivek is a good man, and is not done yet!”

McLaughlin said on Friday that the amount of ad spending will stay the same and the shift is centered around their internal data that suggests Ramaswamy voters are not traditional broadcast television consumers.

“We are focused on bringing out the voters we’ve identified—best way to reach them is using addressable advertising, mail, text, live calls and doors to communicate with our voters on Vivek’s vision for America, making their plan to caucus and turning them out,” McLaughlin said. “As you know, this isn’t what most campaigns look like. We have intentionally structured this way so that we have [the] ability to be nimble and hyper targeted in our ad spending.”

The campaign in early November announced an eight-figure advertising buy in Iowa and New Hampshire and toward the end of the same month, they released a television ad featuring Ramaswamy’s piano teacher that aired in both states.

And despite his recent rhetoric, Ramaswamy saidin August that he would “need to be on TV in Iowa, New Hampshire, in the early states, and Nevada and elsewhere to compete.”

A Cambridge University study published in 2021 determined that the primary impact of political television advertising is persuading voters which candidate to vote for by providing information rather than instead of mobilizing voters to turn out to the polls.

According to the study, evidence suggests that because voters have more familiarity with presidential candidates, the likelihood of being persuaded via television ads “should more strongly influence views of down-ballot candidates than views of presidential candidates.”

Howard Hubbard, the Iowa Davis County chair for the Ramaswamy campaign, said that Ramaswamy is attracting a younger audience that may consume ads on social media in lieu of television.

The 38-year-old Ohio entrepreneur has made a huge push to garner the support of young people, including campaigning on college campuses with open bars and doing TikToks and podcast interviews throughout his campaign.

“I honestly think that he’s gonna get back to it. I at least I hope he does, because that’s the only way he’s going to reach some of the older crowd,” Hubbard said.

According to ad tracking firm AdImpact, Ramaswamy’s campaign has spent $1,865,039 on advertising in Iowa and $1,307,402 in New Hampshire so far and much of the money has come from the biotech entrepreneur’s personal funds.

As for the other GOP contenders, according to AdImpact, Nikki Haley’s campaign has outspent others in Iowa with $4,512,174. Trump trails with $4,227,139 and DeSantis has spent $2,697,241, compared to Asa Hutchinson’s $474 in advertising spending.

In New Hampshire, DeSantis has only spent $896 on digital ads, and Haley has spent $3 174,102. Trump’s campaign has spent 2,911,808.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has spent $358,877 in New Hampshire and nothing in Iowa.

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