By Jasper Ward
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Grinnell Police Department on Thursday denied reports that protesters in Iowa ran their vehicle into U.S. Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s car during a campaign stop, but said his car was hit by accident.
“It was reported on social media that two protesters intentionally rammed into Ramaswamy’s vehicle and fled the scene. Our investigation has revealed no evidence to substantiate that information,” the police department said in a statement.
It said a local resident was leaving a restaurant when she accidentally hit Ramaswamy’s vehicle while backing out of a parking spot.
The police department said the woman, who was not in the area to protest, did not know whom the vehicle she struck belonged to and did not flee the scene.
While Ramaswamy’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the presidential candidate commented “this was ironic” on a post on X that reported the claim that a protester hit his car before speeding away.
He reposted images of two cars – one which appeared to have damage to the back fender. It is unclear whether the image is of Ramaswamy’s car.
“I believe in free speech, especially for those who disagree with me. Violence is never the answer,” Ramaswamy said in a post on X.
“We will always hold ourselves to a higher standard than the other side.”
Ramaswamy has stoked grassroots chatter as a potential alternative to former President Donald Trump, whom he fervently supports.
According to Reuters/Ipsos polling conducted from Sept. 8-14, his support stood at 13% among Republicans, a close third to Ron DeSantis, who is fighting to preserve his status as the second-place candidate.
Trump is the frontrunner in the Republican party’s race for the presidential nomination.
(Reporting by Jasper Ward; Editing by Sandra Maler and Sonali Paul)