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Influential Iowa evangelical leader endorses Bob Vander Plaats and Ron DeSantis

Bob Vander Plaats, an influential evangelical leader in Iowa, endorsed Ron DeSantis for president on Tuesday, bolstering the Florida governor as he…

Bob Vander Plaats, an influential evangelical leader in Iowa, endorsed Ron DeSantis for president on Tuesday, bolstering the Florida governor as he goes all-in on the state’s first caucus in an effort to trip up Republican favorite Donald Trump.

Vander Plaats is the second major backer DeSantis has recruited in Iowa this month, joining popular Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Evangelicals make up a crucial voting bloc in the Iowa Republican caucuses. Vander Plaats, president of Family Leader, has supported the eventual winner in every Republican caucus since 2008 and risks jeopardizing his streak by choosing DeSantis, who is far behind Trump in the polls. His decision will test his influence among Iowa evangelicals, many of whom continue to support Trump.

If Trump wins Iowa, he’ll likely be the nominee, “but I don’t think America is going to elect him president again,” Vander Plaats told Fox News host Bret Baier.

“I think America would benefit from a choice, and I really believe Ron DeSantis should be that guy,” he said. “And I think Iowa is tailor-made to win this.” »

He highlighted DeSantis’ decisive reelection victory in Florida in 2022 and his success in passing conservative legislation.

Vander Plaats, a prominent anti-abortion activist, questioned the former president’s commitment to an abortion ban. While Trump’s three Supreme Court nominations allowed the high court to overturn the constitutional right to abortion last year, Trump faced backlash from anti-abortion activists for for refusing to commit to national restrictions on abortion and for calling for Florida to sign a six-week deal. banning the procedure is a “terrible mistake”.

A majority of American adults want abortion to be legal at least until the early stages of pregnancy, according to a July poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

DeSantis has infused his campaign with religious rhetoric and persistent outreach to white evangelicals, but has said little about how he practices his own Catholic faith. He met with Vander Plaats earlier this year in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital.

In response to Vander Plaat’s endorsement, Trump’s campaign said the former president was supported by more than 150 Iowa faith leaders and suggested DeSantis paid for the support.

“Kim Reynolds’ support won’t save Ron DeSanctus, and neither will Vander Plaat$’s support,” Trump’s campaign statement said, using a nickname Trump commonly uses for DeSantis. Vander Plaats said his support was not for sale and that payments from DeSantis supporters to his organization were for advertisements at a candidate forum in July.

Trump also posted a video on social media in which he attacked Reynolds for supporting DeSantis and expressed his former administration’s support for Iowa farmers.

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