In a recent post on his Truth Social platform, Donald Trump accused Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of making a desperate move by allegedly paying $100,000 to Iowa preacher Bob Vander Plaats to secure his endorsement. Trump claimed that his campaign did not seek Vander Plaats’s endorsement and questioned the motives behind DeSantis’s actions. The post reflects Trump’s ongoing feud with DeSantis as both individuals vie for political support, particularly in Iowa. The accusations about financial dealings and endorsements add another layer of tension to the dynamics within the Republican Party.
Ron DeDeSanctimonious, in an act of sheer desperation, paid Iowa preacher Bob Vander Plaats $100,000, and then got his Endorsement? We did not seek it. What is going on here?
Donald Trump Truth Social 01:06 AM EST 11/22/23
— Donald J. Trump Posts From His Truth Social (@TrumpDailyPosts) November 22, 2023
According to CBS News, Bob Vander Plaats, a prominent evangelical leader in Iowa, has officially endorsed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the presidential race, offering a significant boost to DeSantis’s campaign as he aims to secure victory in the first state of the primary cycle. Despite trailing behind former President Donald Trump in early polls, DeSantis’s supporters within the faith community believe that endorsements from influential figures like Vander Plaats and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds will help him gain support among evangelical Christian voters, a demographic that has traditionally favored Trump.
Vander Plaats announced his endorsement during an appearance on Fox News, stating that DeSantis had actively sought his support through various engagements, including visits to his organization’s office and attending church together. According to Vander Plaats, DeSantis successfully convinced him during a Thanksgiving candidate roundtable by emphasizing the need for a president capable of serving two terms and surrounding themselves with competent individuals.
As the president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader, a conservative Christian organization in Iowa, Vander Plaats holds sway over a significant audience, maintaining direct contact with over 2,200 churches in the state. Although his endorsement is not officially tied to his organization, Vander Plaats’s influence is expected to resonate with evangelical voters.
Vander Plaats has a track record of backing successful candidates in the Iowa GOP caucus, having supported the last three eventual winners: Ted Cruz in 2016, Rick Santorum in 2012, and Mike Huckabee in 2008. However, none of his endorsed candidates in Iowa went on to win the presidential nomination.
The evangelical leader’s endorsement is seen as a strategic move for DeSantis to gain traction in Iowa, where the competition with Trump remains intense. Vander Plaats emphasized Iowa’s significance, stating that if Trump wins in Iowa, it would be challenging for any other candidate to make a case against him.
Vander Plaats has been critical of Trump in the past, calling him “the biggest risk” for Republicans to win back the White House. Despite his concerns, Vander Plaats believes that the evangelical community may be divided on Trump due to exhaustion with constant controversies.
The endorsement from Vander Plaats is expected to play a crucial role in shaping the narrative of the Iowa caucus, potentially influencing the choices of evangelical voters in the state.