Vivek Ramaswamy called Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, a Nazi during the Republican debate on Wednesday.
Ramaswamy claimed the Ukrainian government "celebrated a Nazi in its ranks. A man named Zelensky, a comedian in cargo pants. That is not democratic." The line echoes Russian state propaganda, which claims that Zelensky’s government is pro-Nazi.
Some viewers argued Ramaswamy did not intend to call Zelensky a Nazi and was instead referring to a Canadian parliament meeting that accidentally honored a former Nazi Waffen-SS veteran while Zelensky was in attendance.
The candidate also slammed the "neocon establishment" for fighting "wars that did not advance anyone's interests" and singled out former United Nations ambassador Haley for her hawkish national security positions.
"Do you want a leader from a different generation who's going to put this country first, or do you want Dick Cheney in three-inch heels?" said Ramaswamy.
Haley shot back that she wears "five-inch heels."
"They’re not for a fashion statement," Haley said. "They're for ammunition."
Ramaswamy said Israel has the "responsibility to defend itself" without additional U.S. military support. His comments reflect his previous campaign statements that the U.S. should back Israel diplomatically but not with supplemental military aid, which Ramaswamy has said he wants to cut by 2028.
"I would tell [Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu] to smoke those terrorists on his southern border. And then I'll tell him, as president of the United States, I'll be smoking the terrorists on our southern border," said Ramaswamy. "That's his responsibility. This is our responsibility."