Senior aide to Republican presidential candidate Ramaswamy quits to join Trump

FILE PHOTO: Republican presidential candidates speak in Florida

By Tim Reid

(Reuters) - A senior aide to Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has resigned and joined former President Donald Trump's White House campaign, a Ramaswamy spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Brian Swensen, a national political director for Ramaswamy who had been focusing much of his time on the crucial early nominating state of New Hampshire, left the former biotech executive's presidential campaign as it has struggled to gain traction.

A Trump aide said Swensen will now help the former president's campaign in Nevada, another early state in the Republican nomination battle.

Ramaswamy, 38, who has staked out far-right positions on many issues and has been a fervent defender of Trump, created political buzz early in his campaign with combative, attention-grabbing debate performances.

Yet in opinion polls in recent weeks, Ramaswamy's bid for the party's 2024 presidential nomination has appeared to stall: He languishes at around 5% support of likely Republican primary voters in national polls, more than 40 percentage points behind Trump, who is by far the frontrunner.

Tricia McLaughlin, a spokesperson for Ramaswamy's campaign, said Swensen's departure had nothing to do with internal problems within the campaign.

She said the appointment of Mike Biundo, a veteran political operative from New Hampshire, as Ramaswamy's national political adviser had rendered Swensen's New Hampshire role less relevant.

"We love Brian, we wish the best for him," McLaughlin said. "His departure has been a long time in the making."

Ramaswamy's campaign said he has qualified to be on stage next week in Alabama for the fourth Republican debate, as the party seeks a nominee to take on Democratic President Joe Biden in next November's presidential election.

(Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)