Ten minutes before Vivek Ramaswamy was to take the stage in a dated casino hotel in western Iowa, no one was in the conference room except for two staffers from the Iowa GOP, which organized the event, and a group of journalists.
Guests started trickling in at the time the event was scheduled. By the time Ramaswamy began his remarks an hour later, there were about 60 people.
While Ramaswamy is packing his schedule with stops across Iowa, he has failed to move up in the 2024 Republican primary race and is increasingly at risk of becoming an afterthought. He is polling in the mid to high single digits and has left critics asking what his endgame is or if he is staying in the race only to boost former President Donald Trump.
Ramaswamy is falling behind just as the GOP campaign enters the critical final weeks before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15. After an earlier flurry of attention, the 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur and first-time political candidate is gaining more notice for his provocations in debates than for signs that his campaign is resonating with voters.