Vivek Ramaswamy stops town hall to invite student protester inside

He ushered the student to sit in the front row for the remainder of the event.

October 7, 2023, 4:58 AM

HENNIKER, New Hampshire -- “We have the right to vote!” Gabriel Reynolds, a sophomore at New England College, chanted through the windows of Simon Center Great Room.

Reynolds was peacefully protesting presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy by chanting about the voting age, holding a homemade black Sharpie sign with the words "No Forever War in Mexico," and playing his guitar. Ramaswamy calls for increasing the voting age to 25, unless an 18 year-old citizen passes the same civics test given to immigrants seeking American citizenship.

Ramaswamy took part in a SiriusXM town hall at New England College, hosted by David Webb, where, throughout the hour-long taped radio broadcast set to air Monday morning, there was Reynolds lingering voice demanding change.

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, left, invites New England College student Gabriel Reynolds, who was protesting him outside an event,, Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, in Henniker, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, left, invites New England College student Gabriel Reynolds, who was protesting him outside an event, to join a campaign stop and ask a question, Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, in Henniker, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/AP

Following the radio broadcast portion of the event, Ramaswamy opted to take more questions from the crowd.

But, aware of the noise outside, Ramaswamy signaled to host Webb, “David, why don’t I let the gentleman outside in. He clearly wants to come in.”

Ramaswamy exited the student center with David Webb to personally invite the single protester into the town hall. The press followed outside, jumping off the staged media risers to catch the potential interaction, while attendees crowded the windows to watch the event unfold.

“Would you like to come in and join us because I’ve noticed you’ve been very vocal through this?” Ramaswamy continued, “I just want you to know that you don’t have to be outside. You’re allowed in.”

Reynolds noted that he was told he wasn’t allowed to bring signs into the event.

“I have something to do with that. You can bring in the signs if you want, but who needs to sign when you have your own voice. Come on inside and we will give you a chance to ask a question.”

After proceeding to help pack up Reynold’s guitar equipment, Ramaswamy mentioned, “I’ve been outside of rooms that I’ve tried to get into before, so that’s been frustrating.”

He ushered the young student to sit in the front row for the remainder of the event.

As the scrum transitioned to a town hall, Ramaswamy allowed Reynolds to ask one of the last questions.

He asked, “How do you expect to get the American people's support behind an invasion of Mexico to take out the cartels when we could in fact just help them succeed financially and bring them out of a deep poverty without the bloodshed of a single American? And how do you expect to gain support for a war like this if you take away our right to vote?”

Ramaswamy answered that the two of them actually share a lot in common.

“First of all, if there's an anti-war current in that question, boy, do we share that in common. I mean, the world we're in right now. Sleepwalking our way into its war in Ukraine that does not advance the U.S. national interest. And there is a bipartisan consensus pushing us further and further into that war," Ramaswamy said. "I'm deeply worried that we are inching closer to a major armed conflict with a nuclear power, possibly World War III ... So there's one presidential candidate who is anti-war and wants to keep us out of World War III. That's me.”

In what could have been a pivotal positive moment between the politician and student, Reynolds said he left disappointed, overwhelmed and flustered by the chaos. He even noted that he plans to vote for Marianne Williamson in the upcoming primary.

ABC News caught up with Reynolds after the town hall where he described Ramaswamy's actions as a public relations stunt.

“It felt like a little bit of a PR stunt. Like my opinions were being trivialized in a way. I appreciated the gesture, but I know that he was just doing it for the camera. And that, yeah, so I'm a bit overwhelmed right now.”

Since the action unfolded, the Ramaswamy campaign has plastered the exchange all over their social media suggesting it was a "good day in New Hampshire."

But Reynolds wasn’t satisfied with Ramaswamy's answer.

“He answered half of my question. But I still think that he has imperialist influence in Mexico, which is not something that this country shied away from. We see it in our trade deals. We see it with NAFTA in the 1990s leading to the uprising in Chiapas,” Reynolds explained. “Our Mexican brothers and sisters. Our American brothers and sisters ... do not need to shed blood over this. I think that there are economic resources that we have available in order to not have a conflict here.”

During their banter outside, Ramaswamy mentioned that the two of them shared a lot in common.

Asked if Reynolds shares this sentiment, Reynolds took a somber long pause and put his hand on his heart, “Well, we both have hearts.”