Pharmaceutical executive Vivek Ramaswamy responded to the shooting in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday after a racially motivated shooter killed three black people, asserting, “We have a mental health epidemic in this country.”

Ramaswamy, who is running for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Dana Bash, who asked him his reaction to the shooting.

“This should not be happening in the United States of America, and it is wrong,” Ramaswamy stated. “The reality is, we have a mental health epidemic in this country. There are reports that this particular individual, the perpetrator, was indeed evaluated for mental health deficiencies as well.”

“And I think we need to have the courage in this country to bring back a practice of putting back psychiatrically ill people who pose a risk to their communities into psychiatric institutions, not just drugging them up, but faith-based approaches and other approaches that fill our longing for purpose and meaning in this country,” he continued, adding, “We have to address that mental health epidemic, and we need leaders with the courage to do it.”

When Bash noted that according to the local sheriff the shooter had three manifestos, and said specifically that he went to the store with the intent of killing black people, Ramaswamy responded, “I think that is heinous and deserves to be called out for what it is.”

Ramaswamy also defended his remarks in which he compared Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) to “modern grand wizards of the modern KKK” after she said “We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice.” When Bash criticized him for his comments, he stated, “I think you’re doing, with due respect, what many in the media do, picking on some fringe comment in the context of a broader context that I was offering it in a speech, avoiding the meat of the issue.”

Discussing climate change, Bash said, “You’re saying, like, build taller buildings and have better air conditioning and heating systems? That’s your remedy for climate — the climate crisis?”

“Well, there’s a fuller totality of the way we use fossil fuels to live more advanced lives that protect us from all risks, not just climate-related risks, but all risks to humanity,” Ramaswamy responded. “Right now, most people who are dying are dying actually of lack of access to energy at all, not because of the effects of climate change. The models that you described are, I think, badly fabricated.”

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