(NewsNation) — GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy joined NewsNation on Monday for a town hall moderated by chief Washington anchor Leland Vittert.

It was Ramaswamy’s first presidential town hall with a national television news network.

Ramaswamy answered questions live from audience members and viewers in New Hampshire and Iowa on immigration, the economy and health care.

Ramaswamy started out the town hall stating that he wants to face Donald Trump in the Republican primary despite the former president’s new indictment that dropped Monday night.

“It would be a lot easier for me if Donald Trump were not in this primary, but that is not how I want to win this election,” Ramaswamy said.

If elected, Ramaswamy would become the first person of Hindu faith to lead the country. When asked whether questions about his religion were out-of-bounds, Ramaswamy said he welcomes them.

When asked how the government could protect free speech in classrooms, Ramaswamy said he would direct the Department of Justice to enforce civil rights laws “evenhandedly” to eliminate “political viewpoint discrimination.”

He also said he would make a “deal” with Putin if he’s elected. His deal includes making a commitment to Putin that NATO will not admit Ukraine if Russia exits a military partnership with China.

In the early months of the campaign, Ramaswamy’s numbers have soared in the polls after he initially registered at little more than 0%. Some recent surveys have shown him in third place for the presidential nomination behind front-runner former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Morning Consult poll updated last week had Ramaswamy at 8%. While that’s nowhere near Trump’s 59% and half of DeSantis’ 16%, it’s still well above other candidates such as former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, each at 3%, per Morning Consult.