Iowa Faith Leader Bob Vander Plaats Endorses DeSantis for President

Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats endorsed Ron DeSantis for President on Tuesday, adding his name to a growing list of conservative figures in the state hoping to see the Florida Governor win the January caucuses.

Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of The Family Leader organization, defended his endorsement, arguing that DeSantis would have the best chance of winning the 2024 general election. He officially announced his endorsement during an appearance on Fox News’ ‘Special Report’ with host Bret Baier.

“What we saw in 2022, the supposedly ‘red wave,’ really only happened in Florida and in Iowa,” Vander Plaats explained.

“Gov. DeSantis took a reliable toss-up state in Florida and made it completely red… won by 20 points, won in demographics that we haven’t won in. But he’s also done that by being a bold and courageous leader… So right away, it was kind of his endorsement to lose,”

The Iowa faith leader told Baier that DeSantis had secured his endorsement with his appearance at The Family Leader’s Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines on Friday. The Governor was joined by fellow candidates Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy for a friendly side-by-side discussion on faith and family. Former President Donald Trump was not invited.

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“He was very clear about ‘we need a president who can serve two terms, not one term,'” Vander Plaats explained.

“We don’t need a president that’s gonna be a lame duck on day one. You need a president that’s gonna surround themselves with the best and brightest people, versus having a hard time attracting them again. And someone who’s actually going to do what they say they’re going to do, and I just think he’s got the spine to do it. And I think he’s got the experience to win for us,”

Just hours before the interview, DeSantis told reporters at a New Hampshire campaign stop that he and his campaign were “hopeful that we’re able to secure that endorsement.” DeSantis later acknowledged Vander Plaats’ endorsement, saying he had a “good relationship” with the Family Leader CEO.

“I think that if you saw that Family Leader forum, clearly his folks there gravitated to me. I don’t think there’s any question about that. We have a good relationship,”

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In a follow-up interview with the Des Moines Register, Vander Plaats praised the three GOP candidates who attended the Thanksgiving Forum, but said DeSantis was “exceptionally accomplished.”

“He’s campaigning the right way and building the infrastructure the right way… He’s done the Iowa caucuses the right way. And I believe he’s proven he can win in demographics we need to win.

Those are people that can actually win a caucus… And so I believe by lending my voice there, Iowa’s showing a coalescing around one candidate.”

“If you’re looking for an alternative to Trump, you need to have somebody that the Trump voters would go to,” Vander Plaats continued. “And that, obviously, is Ron DeSantis.”

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