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GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy raps to Eminem's 'Lose Yourself'

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was wrapping up an onstage interview at the Iowa State Fair last weekend when he got his one shot, one opportunity.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VIVEK RAMASWAMY: (Rapping) He opens his mouth, but the words won't come out. He's chokin'. How? Everybody's jokin' now. The clock's run out. Time's up. Over. Blaow.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Ramaswamy performed Eminem's classic song "Lose Yourself." Video of his performance was not lost but was watched around 8 million times on X, formerly known as Twitter. For a long-shot candidate like Ramaswamy, that was essential.

ZACH GRAUMANN: You're not just competing with your other candidates. You're competing with everything.

FADEL: That's Zach Graumann. He was the campaign manager for Andrew Yang's 2020 presidential run, a run that was powered by viral moments.

GRAUMANN: We spent weeks planning one of his early trips to South Carolina. And he had a bunch of big crowds and was doing really well. That got essentially no coverage. What got coverage was him Jazzercising and ended up doing the "Cupid Shuffle" with a number of older ladies.

FADEL: But he says for those moments to actually work, they have to be authentic.

GRAUMANN: When politicians try to be cool or try to do something that's inauthentic to them but is popular online, it usually bombs.

INSKEEP: Which can be online big in the wrong way. So Graumann gave his candidate some timeless advice.

GRAUMANN: Be yourself and have some fun out there. And then what you do as a staff is you build around that and have the cameras going at all times. And you lean into it.

INSKEEP: Although you should put a lot of planning into that improvised moment.

GRAUMANN: If the candidate's message is one thing and the candidate as a human is another thing, you can be in trouble - right? - like, even if it's an authentic viral moment.

FADEL: There's also no guarantee, Graumann says, that those moments will translate into votes.

GRAUMANN: There's a big difference between doing well on Twitter and getting people to actually show up with a ballot.

FADEL: Vivek Ramaswamy continues to be a long-shot candidate, but, sometimes, losing yourself is a good way to be the center of conversation.

INSKEEP: By the way, we reached out to Eminem's team for comment. They declined.

(SOUNDBITE OF EMINEM SONG, "LOSE YOURSELF") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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