Isolationist GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy pivoted to hawkish-sounding positions on Israel and Taiwan during a 10-minute interview on Monday with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Hannity confronted Ramaswamy over his recent proposals to cut off U.S. military to Israel and drop any defense of Taiwan after 2028. In response, Ramaswamy denied he ever proposed the policies and vowed to step up U.S. support for both countries if elected.
The Hannity segment was the latest instance of Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old entrepreneur with no political experience, shifting his isolationist foreign policy positions in the face of criticism.
"You said aid to Israel, our number one ally, only democracy in the region, should end in 2028 and that they should be integrated with their neighbors," Hannity said.
"That's false," Ramaswamy replied. "What I said is it would be a mark of success if we ever got to a point in our relationship with Israel if Israel never needed the United States’ aid."
Pressed by Hannity on whether he understands "the importance of the [U.S.-Israel] strategic alliance, the intelligence sharing in an area of the world where we have a lot of enemies ... with Iran especially seeking nukes," Ramaswamy said, "I understand it I think more deeply than probably anybody in this race."
"The reality is this, by the end of my first term our relationship with Israel will be stronger than it ever has been because I will treat it as a true friendship, not just a transactional relationship," Ramaswamy added.
Ramaswamy said Hannity's characterization of his remarks was based on "fake news." He repeated his promise to negotiate an "Abraham Accords 2.0"—a peace treaty between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Indonesia, and Oman—and "to make sure Iran never, ever, ever has nuclear capabilities."
Earlier on Monday, Ramaswamy’s website was updated to say that he "won’t cut aid to Israel until Israel tells the U.S. that it no longer needs the aid." Ramaswamy told the Free Beacon last week that he supports cutting off the aid when the current package passed by Congress expires in 2028.
Hannity also challenged Ramaswamy on his apparent support for allowing China to invade Taiwan once the United States no longer needs the island nation for critical semiconductor technology. On Aug. 14, Ramaswamy told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that by 2028, "I will have led the United States of America to achieve semiconductor independence, and we will not take the risk of war that risks Americans' lives after that for some nationalistic dispute between China and Taiwan."
But to Hannity, Ramaswamy claimed to have meant only that after 2028, he would as president return the United States to the status quo on Taiwan. Until then, Ramaswamy said, he would actually strengthen the U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan from China, which claims sovereignty over the country.
"We need to be clear that we will defend Taiwan," Ramaswamy said. "We have to defend Taiwan until we achieve semiconductor independence, at which point we resume our current posture of strategic ambiguity," Ramaswamy said, echoing his Monday letter to the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
Hannity was less aggressive in challenging Ramaswamy's platform on Ukraine, which involves ending U.S. aid to the country and accepting Russia's conquest in exchange for Moscow ending its military alliance with China.
"I worry we are now driving Russia closer into China's arms, and the Russia-China alliance is the single greatest threat that we face," Ramaswamy said.
"It's already there," Hannity said. "It's Russia, China, and Iran—a new axis of evil is formed."
But when Ramaswamy interjected, "And I want to weaken it," Hannity agreed, "I want to weaken it, too."
Also on Monday, Ramaswamy outlined a plan to withdraw America from much of the world in an essay for the American Conservative.
"I will lead our nation from the bloody follies of neoconservatism and liberal internationalism abroad towards a strategy that affirmatively defends our homeland," Ramaswamy wrote. "We will be Uncle Sucker no more."