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Eight Republican candidates are gearing up to take the debate stage tonight as the early 2024 presidential election cycle reaches a pivotal point.
Former President and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump—who owns some Ethereum and has his own NFT collection—will be notably absent, electing to skip the chit-chat in lieu of a pre-recorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Twitter.
Trump also used Twitter in 2019 to say that “he’s not a big fan of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” favoring the U.S. dollar. But other presidential hopefuls have also weighed in. Where do the candidates stand?
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has expressed support for Bitcoin since his first official day as a candidate. During his campaign’s kickoff alongside Tesla CEO and Twitter owner Elon Musk, DeSantis told the billionaire that Bitcoin will probably be killed off if President Joe Biden is reelected.
“You have every right to do Bitcoin,” DeSantis also said. “The only reason these people in Washington don’t like it is because they don’t control it.”
DeSantis has critiqued central bank digital currencies (CBDC) as well. He once called the technology a “massive transfer of power from individual consumers to a central authority” and moved to prevent a digital dollar from ever entering the Sunshine State.
CBDCs are similar to stablecoins, as both are tokens pegged to the price of a sovereign currency like the greenback. But instead of being issued on public networks by private companies, CBDCs are maintained by their respective governments or central banks.
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy
While Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. established himself as a pro-Bitcoin Biden alternative in May at Bitcoin 2023 in Miami, Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy was also a speaker with plenty to say about crypto’s largest coin.
“Thomas Jefferson, he would’ve been mining for Bitcoin today, I have little doubt about that,” he said. “That’s an American embodiment. It’s who we are as people.”
During his speech at Bitcoin 2023, Ramaswamy said that Bitcoin is not a security, lambasted the Federal Reserve for trying to play “financial god,” criticized CBDCs, and skewered the Biden’s administration proposed 30% excise tax on crypto mining.
One of the primary objectives of his campaign is to reform the U.S. central bank, Ramaswamy said. He implored conference-goers to get him to the debate stage by donating Bitcoin to his campaign, and to make 2024 a “referendum on sound money in the United States.”
Ramaswamy told the crypto news site CoinDesk in May that he’s the only candidate with enough knowledge to talk about Bitcoin intelligently. He also accused DeSantis of adopting many aspects of his pro-Bitcoin and anti-CBDC stance.
Earlier this week, Ramaswamy got a thumbs up from Elon Musk, who called him "a very promising candidate."
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott has established himself as supportive of crypto regulation. He’s a member of the Senate’s Financial Innovation Caucus, which discusses issues like digital assets, stablecoins, and CBDCs.
Scott was also a co-sponsor of the Equal Opportunity for All Investors Act, a bill that ultimately failed last year but sought to define digital assets as an investment and modify existing rules surrounding accredited investors.
At a Senate Banking Committee hearing devoted to digital assets in February, he called out Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler for his decision not to attend, contrasting it with a plethora of TV interviews Gensler has done.
He also asked whether the SEC was “asleep at the wheel” for failing to take action against FTX before it was too late, leading to the collapse of the exchange last November.
“The American people deserve to know why no action was taken prior to the collapse of FTX, and how millions of dollars of American’s hard-earned money just vanished into nothing,” he said.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum hasn’t been a vocal proponent of Bitcoin on the campaign trail, but he’s given the crypto sector a tip of the hat within the past year. Commenting on the construction of a data center in North Dakota last year, he noted the state’s emergence as a hub for crypto mining.
“This major investment in North Dakota will further cement our state’s growing reputation as a hub for data centers and cryptocurrency mining,” he said. “We are well-positioned to support data centers and other energy-intensive industries.”
Could be a supporter, but it’s hard to tell
There were several candidates set to take the stage on Wednesday who do not appear to have issued public comments about cryptocurrency or Bitcoin. They are former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Miami’s pro-crypto Mayor Francis Suarez acknowledged on Wednesday that he did not qualify for the upcoming debate, after he erroneously claimed he did a week before, per ABC Action News.
During an interview with the crypto news site The Block, Suarez said he would potentially take his salary in Bitcoin as president, something he already does as Miami’s mayor. Additionally, the candidate accepts Bitcoin transactions.
“I think it’s important for a president to encourage generational innovation,” he said. “I do support alternative assets like crypto, and I think they’re very good for a country like the U.S.”