BRENTWOOD, N.H. – Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy says he’s “privileged to join my favorite hate group and extremist group today.”
The multi-millionaire entrepreneur, best-selling author, conservative commentator, and culture wars champion headlined a Moms for Liberty town hall Thursday in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary and second overall contest in the Republican presidential nominating calendar.
Ramaswamy’s appearance comes just two days after the conservative parental rights group was designed as an extremist organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Moms for Liberty and 11 other groups on Tuesday were labeled by the SPLC as “anti-government extremist groups” in its annual 2022 Year In Hate and Extremism report. The report charged that Moms for Liberty can be “spotted at school board meetings across the country wearing shirts and carrying signs that declare, ‘We do NOT CO-PARENT with the GOVERNMENT.’”
Moms for Liberty was founded two years ago, amid the coronavirus pandemic, as a “social-welfare” nonprofit group, which means it can engage in political and policy activity without disclosing its donors. The group says its mission is to protect parental rights in education, which they describe as “God-given and fundamental.”
According to its website, the mission of the group is to “unify, educate and empower parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government.” It has fought against mask mandates in schools and has targeted critical race theory.
Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice told Fox News on Wednesday that the SPLC’s “extremist” label was “absolutely absurd.”
“We are a group of moms and dads and grandparents and aunts and uncles, community members that are very concerned about the direction of the country,” Justice told “Fox News Tonight.”
She added that the group is “upsetting the balance of power in public education” and believes the SPLC is engaging in an “orchestrated attempt” to “stop our voices.”
Ramaswamy told Fox News Digital ahead of his appearance alongside Justice at the New Hampshire town hall that he “was proud to be the first GOP presidential candidate to sign the Moms for Liberty pledge. I did it on the spot without apology at CPAC.”
SPLC has long been recognized as one of the top research organizations tracking hate and extremism across the country. Its work over the years has targeted self-described militias, anti-immigrant groups and hate groups, and it has successfully sued such groups in court.
But SPLC has also been criticized for designating as extremist groups some organizations that say they are just taking political positions. And SPLC has itself been sued for labeling groups and individuals as extremists. Many conservatives view the SPLC as a far-left organization.
Ramaswamy, pointing to his book “Woke, Inc” made the New York Times best-selling list, touted that he “exposed the scam of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that actually takes millions in corporate contributions to then provide cover to those corporations in the kind of political discrimination that they’re engaged in today.”
“I’ve exposed this for the last several years. Now it’s landing on the doorstep of an organization that I’ve frankly proudly aligned myself with,” Ramaswamy said.
At the town hall, Ramaswamy to the audience that “we as the parents determine the education of our children. That’s a hard truth in America. We do not want the federal government involved in education at all.”
And he detailed his vision for educational reform.
“First step shut down the Department of Education. Second step use that funding to close any underfunded gaps in school choice programs across the country,” Ramaswamy said.
And Ramaswamy said third, he wants to mandate transparency for schools for on the receiving end of federal education funds.
If you’re going to teach it in the school, it’s got to be online,” he said. And Ramaswamy pledged to take ai at public employee teachers unions.
He also would push for a revival of civic pride and civic education in the country, but not through federal mandates
Ramaswamy believes his alignment with Moms for Liberty sets him apart in the 2024 GOP presidential primary race.
“I think I’m the only candidate who’s really touching these issues with a level of clarity that we’re going need in order to get the job done. It’s no accident, it’s no coincidence, that I’m there to talk to group after being the first candidate to sign their pledge,” Ramaswamy said in his Fox News interview.
Moms for Liberty will hold a nation summit in Philadelphia at the end of this month, which will attract a handful of the GOP presidential contenders. Former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former ambassador, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Ramasamy are scheduled to address the gathering.