The Iowa Caucus, which will be held on February 1, is the first caucus in the country. As a result, it is a key focal point for nearly everyone running for president. It is a critical state to win as it helps set the stage for all the caucuses that follow.
For a Republican to win the caucus in Iowa, there is one man’s endorsement that is critical to secure. He is a top evangelical leader in the state and his endorsement matters. On Thursday morning, Bob Vander Plaats, President and CEO of Family Leader, announced his endorsement for the 2016 presidential race and the weight of his name behind this candidate is expected to be a game changer.
Vander Plaats announced that he is endorsing Texas Senator and constitutional conservative Ted Cruz for the presidency. The blessing of the Cruz campaign by Vander Plaats carries a lot of weight with the coveted and important evangelical Christian voting bloc in Iowa.
Speaking with the Des Moines Register, Vander Plaats shared why he chose to endorse Ted Cruz instead of one of the other 14 candidates in the GOP presidential race. He said, “At the end of the day, we truly believe that Ted Cruz is the most consistent and principled conservative who has the ability to not only win Iowa but I believe to win the (Republican) nomination.”
The majority of the GOP presidential candidates were trying desperately to secure Vander Plaats’ endorsement. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham were all hopefuls for this endorsement. Each auditioned with Vander Plaats in an attempt to get his support. The only two candidates who did not work to get his endorsement were Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.
Vander Plaats not only shared why he chose to endorse Cruz, but also explained why he chose Cruz over a few of the other candidates.
In regards to Donald Trump, Vander Plaats said, “Mr. Trump, he was probably taken off our radar when he made the decision not to attend the forum.” He said the two will move on as friends, however.
Though he described Marco Rubio as a conservative, his history regarding amnesty and illegal immigration played a major role in Rubio not getting Vander Plaats’ endorsement.
“However, I do believe the one issue he decided he was going to lead in Washington, D.C., with (Democratic New York U.S. Sen. Chuck) Schumer and (Republican Arizona U.S. Sen.) John McCain and the ‘gang of eight’ gave and gives everybody a little bit of cause for pause. And with immigration being such a big issue today, I think that’s going to be a hurdle that’s going to be a very steep for Marco Rubio to clear.”
Though some have attempted to portray Ted Cruz as a DC insider since he is a sitting senator, Vander Plaats begged to differ with such a description of Cruz. He contended, “But I think what’s appealing about Ted Cruz is he still gives that ‘outside’ appearance. He has not been embraced by the Washington establishment community, on either side of the aisle. So he’s still viewed as that outside candidate who really knows how this thing works and what needs to be changed.”
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This decision was not one that Vander Plaats took lightly. In a statement, he made it known just how seriously he took his choice of which candidate to endorse.
“Today is the culmination of a months long process that was deliberative, intensive, and covered in prayer from start to finish. I am confident that Ted Cruz is the right man for the job, and look forward to working with Iowans in every corner of the state to help him win the Iowa Caucus on February 1st.”