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Haley, Ramaswamy among those taking on ‘awakened ideology’ in SC – KGET 17

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (AP) – Republicans seeking to lead their party in the 2024 presidential race gathered in South Carolina this weekend with a goal at the top of their agenda: taking on an “awakened ideology.”

On Saturday in North Charleston, the group Palmetto Family, which lobbies for what it considers “biblical values,” hosted Vision ’24, which organizers described as a “conservative vision” for the next race for the White House. Several hundred attendees heard from presidential candidates, including Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who served as Donald Trump’s UN ambassador, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

As organizers expected, issues like gas prices and national security got a lot of attention, with former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson saying that to fight inflation, “we have to get the federal government under control.”

But, as expected, much of the focus has been on the pushback from some across the US against what they see as an affront to the conservative way of life by efforts characterized as “woke.” It appears in statewide debates about classroom instruction, gender-affirming juvenile care, and collegiate diversity programs.

The catch-all label “awakening” is taking the lead in the growing GOP presidential race, with front-runner Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, emerging as a fierce opponent of policies designed to ensure equity on race, gender and public health.

Ramaswamy, who entered the race this month, has written a book on the subject, particularly as it relates to business: “Woke, Inc.: Fraud Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice.”

The debate also spilled over into the financial space.

On Thursday, 19 Republican governors, including DeSantis and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, another possible 2024 candidate, signed a letter opposing the Biden administration’s support for a federal labor rule that allows pension plans to take environmental factors into account. society and governance (ESG) when investing. decisions. Critics say the efforts are the latest example of a world trying to “wake up,” allocating money based on political agendas, such as fighting climate change, rather than on delivering the best returns for savers.

DeSantis wasn’t on stage in South Carolina, but Ramaswamy and Haley were. Haley adopted “strong and proud, not weak and awakened” on yard signs, T-shirts and campaign stickers. At the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month, she said that “vigilance is a more dangerous virus than any pandemic, of course.” On Saturday, Haley called transgender students competing in sports “the women’s issue of our time,” adding, “If we don’t stop all this woke ideology going on in our schools, we’re going to lose them.”

For Ramaswamy, being “anti-vigilante” is central to his political brand. Leaving his biotech company after he was pressured to “make a statement in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Ramaswamy called CPAC “an opportunity for the conservative movement to rise to the occasion and fill that void with a vision of American national identity that reaches so deep that it dilutes this awakened poison to irrelevance.” He later started his own firm with the intention of pressuring companies to abandon ESG initiatives.

Ramaswamy on Saturday called the “awakening” a “cultural cancer” in America, saying that as president he would push to start over with agencies that had “become cancerous rot.”

“We’re going to shut down the FBI and create something new from scratch to take its place,” he said to much applause.

It’s a similar string of messages that South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who has yet to announce his 2024 bid but is in attendance Saturday, has been sending for years. In a 2021 op-ed, Scott wrote that, because of his status as the only black Republican in the Senate, he had long suffered criticism from the “woke people” because “my ideology does not match the one they prescribe based on my complexion.”

“The radical left is trying to victimize people,” Scott said Saturday in North Charleston, adding that, according to Democrats, “if you’re white, you must be the oppressor. If you are black or brown, you are a victim.”

Others have also dealt with the topic.

“I think we should protect kids … sometimes even from themselves,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the audience, referring to transgender student-athletes.

“Woke is their favorite word, wake-ism is their favorite activity, and they adhere to DEI and ESG like it’s a religion,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee told Washington Democrats. “I think that’s why 75% of this country thinks the country is on the wrong track.”

“Republicans are not perfect,” said Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana. “But the other side is crazy. … The American people do not deserve to be governed by deeply awakened … people who hate George Washington, hate Thomas Jefferson … who think our children should be able to change genders at recess.”

Former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who told The Associated Press he will decide whether to seek the 2024 GOP presidential nomination by late spring or early summer — said “woke” Washington politicians are “crushing the spirit of America’s educators and entrepreneurs and the American spirit.”

Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who left the Democratic Party last year, said her former party was “driven by this motivation of cowardly vigilantism” and had leaders who “stand for the mutilation of children in the name of so-called gender-affirming concern.” ”

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson called the push of the “MAGA agenda” for some “dog whistles” while introducing the event on Friday.

“If they’re talking about a culture war and an awakening, then you’re not paying attention to the fact that your rights and freedom to make health care decisions as a woman are being taken away,” Robertson said, referring to the push for more restrictive abortion laws in a number of states. “They want to talk about awakening because they are unable to talk about anything substantial.”

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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