Trump Spars With Pro-DeSantis Evangelical Leader, Claims ‘Scam’ Endorsement

Former President Donald Trump traded blows with Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats this weekend, accusing him of “scamming” the Republican primary candidates and selling his endorsement to Ron DeSantis. Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of The Family Leader organization, had thrown his support behind DeSantis on Tuesday, telling Fox News host Bret Baier that Republicans need “somebody who can win in 2024.”

While Trump continues to maintain a sizable lead in polling for the Republican primary, Vander Plaats’ support is expected to give DeSantis a boost among evangelical voters ahead of the January caucuses.

The endorsement outraged the former President, who slammed the Family Leader CEO on his Truth Social page,

“Bob Vander Plaats, the former High School Accountant from Iowa, will do anything to win, something which he hasn’t done in many years,” Trump wrote on Saturday. He referenced a $95,000 made to The Family Leader in August by a DeSantis-affiliated political action committee.

“He’s more known for scamming Candidates than he is for Victory, but now he’s going around using Disinformation from the Champions of that Art, the Democrats. I don’t believe anything Bob Vander Plaats says. Anyone who would take $95,000, and then endorse a Candidate who is going nowhere, is not what Elections are all about!”

In a recent appearance on Fox News, Vander Plaats insisted that his endorsement “has never been and never will be for sale.”

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Just hours after Trump published his comments, Vander Plaats took to the social media platform X to respond, calling the former President a “chump.”

“LOL [Donald Trump] is the only candidate…EVER…who thought my endorsement would be for sale. He found out, and [Reuters] validated, I live by higher standards,” Vander Plaats wrote.

“And, Iowa will exhibit higher standards when they choose [Ron DeSantis] over a Chump.”

Following the evangelical leader’s endorsement, the Trump campaign sent out an email to supporters titled “Bob Vander Plaat$ Endorses A Candidate Who Will Never Be President.”

“Over 150 faith leaders in Iowa are organizing their congregations for President Trump and not a single one demanded nearly $100k like Bob Vander Plaat$ did from Ron DeSanctus,” the campaign said in the email. “When you are actually the leader of a movement like President Trump is, people are willing to support you for free,” the campaign said in a statement.

“Kim Reynolds’ endorsement won’t save Ron DeSanctus, and neither will Vander Plaat$’ endorsement,”

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Following Vander Plaats’ endorsement on Tuesday, DeSantis thanked the evangelical leader for his support,

“As I’ve made my way through 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties, Iowans have shared what a critical role [Bob Vander Plaats] plays in engaging Iowa’s faith community in the key battles that matter. His support tells Iowans they can trust me to fight and win for them,” DeSantis said on X.

“We’re thrilled to have Bob and Darla on Team DeSantis and are thankful for their friendship as we’ve gotten to know them throughout this campaign.”

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